The Ethics Of Mediation

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I. Introduction

“One of the key stressors mediators face in practice relates to trying to support the achievement of party self-determination, at the same time as fulfilling an ethic of mediator neutrality.”
The above quote illustrates one of the difficulties mediators face under the current mediator neutrality ethical paradigm. Often, mediators struggle to keep their preconceived opinions and biases out of the process in order to maintain their neutral third-party stance and support party self-determination. Mediation is a dispute resolution process that primarily focuses on maximising parties’ self-determination. However, a paradox exists under the current mediator neutrality ethical paradigm. While mediators are not allowed to influence the content of decision-making in mediation, they must pay attention to the content of the settlement in order to ensure that the interests of all parties are represented. Under such circumstances, mediators are inevitably influenced by their own cognitive feelings and judgment. Consequentially, many have questioned whether it is even possible for a mediator to be neutral in any mediation process and uphold party self-determination.
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This essay explores one of the suggested alternatives – the contextual ethical approach.

For the purposes of this essay, we will be discussing the following issues:

a) the meaning of contextual ethics in relation to mediation;
b) whether contextual ethics offers a better way to ethically support parties in mediation;
c) the difference contextual ethics would make to Singapore’s current mediation ethics; and
d) suggested changes to be made to the Singapore International Mediation Institute’s (SIMI) code of professional conduct if Singapore were to embrace contextual ethics.

II. Contextual ethics in relation to
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