Is there a professional body for mediators, and is it necessary to be accredited to describe oneself as a ‘mediator’? What are the key requirements to gain accreditation? Is continuing professional development compulsory, and what requirements are laid down?

There is no statutory requirement under UK domestic law to have any training, experience, professional accreditation or membership of a body in order to describe oneself as a ‘mediator’. However, in practice, unless a recognised course of training has been completed successfully and accreditation, certification, registration and/or empanelments by a recognised body, such as the Civil Mediation Council (CMC), the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution or the International Mediation Institute, has been achieved then a would-be mediator may struggle to build a successful practice. In England and Wales, the CMC, which was founded as a charity in 2003, is the largest registering and membership-based regulatory organisation for all matters related to mediation and is considered to be the first point of contact for the government, the judiciary, the legal profession and industry on mediation issues. The CMC includes most of the country’s top mediators among its membership. CMC registered status is considered a guarantee that the mediator will have undertaken approved training to agreed industry standards, follow an appropriate code of conduct (no less rigorous than the EU Model Code of Conduct for Mediators), carry out necessary continuing professional development activities (at least six hours of mediation-specific CPD per year), and have suitable insurance (not less than £1 million and more if the sums involved exceed this amount) and a suitable published complaints-handling procedure (meeting the CMC’s minimum standards). Further details of the CMC’s requirements, including the full membership rules linked therein, can be found here.

What immunities or potential liabilities does a mediator have? Is professional liability insurance available or required?

There is no UK domestic law that specifically addresses the immunities, the potential liabilities and requirements for professional liability insurance of mediators. However, general statutory and common law rules regulating the formation and enforceability of contracts, the provision of services under contracts and related duties owed to parties in tort will apply.

Mediation is usually undertaken based on a written contract under which the parties often give immunities to the mediator and potential liabilities are either limited or excluded. The law of England and Wales will usually enforce such terms if they are clear, subject to policy exceptions related to fraud and statutes that can apply in certain respects to regulate the reasonableness of contract terms.

If, as is recommended, the mediator to be appointed is a member of a suitable regulatory body, then they will be expected to have appropriate professional indemnity insurance in place. Requesting a copy of proof of their insurance arrangements, to check cover and adequacy of the sums covered, should be made as part of the exercise of due diligence in choosing a suitable mediator.

In the case of CMC-registered mediators, they are required to have suitable insurance in place, with cover of not less than £1 million and, if the sums involved in the dispute exceed this amount, they must have additional cover in place in line with the sums involved.

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