Mediation Week - Hybrid Mediation - another way forward!

January 23, 2024
Posted by:
Peter Burgess

Sometimes it is not possible to reach a compromise position with just two clients and one (or two!) mediators. In situations like this, or where perhaps one of the parties feels ill-equipped to mediate without support, mediation can be supported by lawyers. This means that the lawyers attend the mediation sessions with the clients and participate. Usually your solicitor wouldn’t be actively  engaging and there only to support you, or offer a view from time to time as directed by the mediator.

An extension to this is hybrid mediation. Hybrid mediation is where the mediation is lawyer-supported but there are also some further differences. It is called “hybrid” because it is a hybrid of the family model (two clients, one/two mediators, no lawyers, 90 minute sessions) with the civil model (always with lawyers, much more mediator-led and usually for much longer periods).

In this model, the sessions tend to be a bit longer – perhaps two hours or more. The mediator usually speaks individually to the two lawyers beforehand to explain to them what the aims of the session will be and for them to understand more about the mediation process.

The main difference between the hybrid model and the traditional model of family mediation is that the mediator can keep confidences. This means that whereas under the usual rules of engagement, there is transparency between clients and mediators so that all information is shared, in the hybrid model, the mediator can speak 1:1 with the clients and speak to them about their positions without necessarily feeding back to the other client what has been said. This allows the mediator to understand the context and thinking behind any proposals that are being made. It might allow better understanding between the client and the mediator and allow for the breaking of any impasse which has built up during the negotiations.

The hybrid model is also suitable for clients who might need that extra support of having their lawyer present, either because of a potential power imbalance or because they feel ill-equipped to negotiate without having the advice available to them there and then. Hybrid mediation is also suitable for more complicated cases involving both financial and children issues.

Peter Burgess, a partner at Burgess Mee Family Law, has trained in the hybrid model and frequently conducts mediation in this way.

If you would like to learn more about this, please contact him at

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