How much does mediation cost?
Mediation is a way of resolving disputes without the need to go to court. The service is provided by a trained mediator who helps you and the other participant come to a solution that is acceptable to both of you. This offers a quicker and often less expensive alternative to legal proceedings.
One of the main benefits of mediation is that it’s often a more cost-effective alternative dispute resolution to using a solicitor. Whilst family mediation is almost always cheaper than going to court, the costs can vary depending on how many sessions are held and the number of issues covered. For example, mediating over financial, property and child arrangements during a divorce will likely cost more than mediation for child arrangements alone. This is simply because a wider extent of issues will usually require more sessions.
The good news is that mediation can potentially save you thousands of pounds - whatever the sort of dispute you are involved in.
This guide will help you understand the costs of mediation in the UK, as well as how to fund it. We also provide a guide to our fees here at Mediation First.
The average cost of mediation in the UK
The average cost of mediation in the UK is around £150 per hour per person, with most sessions lasting between one and two hours. However, the total cost depends on how many sessions you need and whether you choose private or legal aid funded mediation. The cost of mediation can also vary depending on the length of your mediation and where you are based.
There are a range of pricing formats used across different mediation companies. While some may offer hourly rates, some may offer fixed fee rates. This can make it difficult to understand exactly how much mediation costs, and it’s not always clear if you’ll be paying extra for some or all of the documents produced by the mediator, or if the figures quoted include or exclude VAT.
In addition to this, the cost of mediation can also vary depending on the experience of the mediator. For example, you might only pay £80 per hour for the help of a newly qualified mediator, but pay closer to £150 an hour for a more experienced mediator. However, if the mediation breaks down or takes twice as long due to the newly qualified mediator’s lack of experience, then choosing a more experienced mediator would have been the more cost-effective option.
The average cost of mediation can differ depending on where you are located. For instance, mediating in London is likely to be more expensive than mediating elsewhere in the UK.
One way that you can save on mediation costs is with online sessions, where location is completely removed from the equation! Not only does online mediation save you money on the actual cost of the mediation but it also saves on travel expenses and the need to take extended periods off work.
Do you always have to pay for mediation?
You will have to pay for mediation unless you are eligible for legal aid, in which case the mediation process is free of charge to the eligible person. If only one of the participants is eligible for legal aid, the other participant will still get their initial MIAM meeting and first joint meeting without charge. Your eligibility for legal aid will depend on your personal and financial circumstances, and the type of case you require family mediation for.
Even if you’re not eligible for legal aid, the government is currently offering a voucher scheme worth £500 to couples who use mediation to discuss children issues. Your mediator will be able to explain how this works at your MIAM meeting.
Legal aid for family mediation
It can be hard to get your head around the cost of mediation when you're in the throes of family conflict. However, it's important to remember that legal aid funding is available for family mediation, so don't let yourself be put off by thinking it's going to be too expensive.
Legal aid is available for family mediation where the following issues are involved:
- Contact arrangements
- Residence and Parental Responsibility
- Issues affecting children - for example child maintenance, one parent wishing to move abroad, choice of school
- Property - i.e. what’s going to happen to the family home and where is everyone going to live
- Finance – savings, debts, pensions and financial maintenance
If you aren't eligible for legal aid, then your options are to either self-fund mediation or negotiate with your ex-partner in order to split the costs between yourselves. If you think you're eligible, make sure you ask your mediator for funding advice during your MIAM meeting.
If you aren’t eligible for legal aid, then you will need to self-fund your share of the cost of mediation. But don’t forget you might be eligible for the government’s £500 voucher scheme for mediations about child arrangements.
As already mentioned, legal aid will pay for all of a mediator's fees in respect of the eligible participant and for some of the mediator’s fees for the non-eligible participant.
Can I get legal aid for mediation?
Legal aid funding depends primarily on your financial eligibility, but also on the issues you wish to resolve. You will naturally want to know if you are eligible before you attend your initial one to one MIAM meeting but unfortunately assessing your eligibility is not straightforward as it depends on both what you own and what you earn or receive as benefits, plus a number of other factors.
If you are unsure of your eligibility for legal aid, our legal aid assessment team can carry out an assessment to determine your eligibility. Alongside other factors, this typically depends on:
- What you own
- What you earn
- What you receive as benefits
Some mediation services, including Mediation First, offer a completely free and ‘no obligation’ legal aid eligibility assessment. Based on the information that you provide, a member of the legal aid assessment team will carry out the legal aid calculation before you attend your MIAM. This will help you understand whether you are eligible before you go any further with mediation. If you’re eligible for legally aided mediation, you can potentially seek limited advice from a solicitor who offers legal aid once you’ve attended your first joint mediation session. Such advice is only available from solicitors who offer legal aid.
Does mediation cost both participants?
If neither participant is eligible for legal aid, then the expectation is that each party will pay their own mediation fees separately. This ensures that each participant has an equal investment in making the mediation work.
However, there is nothing to stop the participants agreeing their own payment arrangements at their own discretion. This sometimes happens where one participant earns considerably more than the other, and so the two participants decide between them to contribute proportionately to the total cost of the mediation.
Find out more about who pays for family mediation.
Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM) fees
Mediation First offers a fixed fee MIAM meeting for £120 including VAT. The first meeting in the family mediation process is referred to as the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). This is a pre-mediation meeting where the mediator explores and explains possible solution routes with each participant in a one-to-one setting.
This is a confidential process that allows participants to make an informed decision about whether mediation is the right route for them.
Your individual MIAM meeting will be free to you if you or your ex is eligible for legal aid. If not, the fixed fee MIAM meeting includes all correspondence, phone calls and preparation time for the assessment, as well as any invitation to the other participant.
Cost of mediation vs solicitor negotiation or going to court
Depending on the type of case, the typical cost of using a solicitor to take your case through the court can be anything between £3,000 and £30,000 each, and sometimes much more. For example, a contested children application can cost between £3,000 and £8,000 each, and a contested financial application can cost between £10,000 and £30,000 each or higher.
In comparison, mediation costs an average of £150 an hour in the UK. This means that in most cases, mediation costs are a fraction of solicitor fees.
Not all family disputes conducted by solicitors end up in court but even those that are settled through solicitor negotiation tend to cost many times the cost of mediation. That’s because mediators help you work collaboratively towards a mutually acceptable settlement unlike the adversarial approach that the court process and solicitor negotiation necessitates.
Unlike solicitors, mediators aren’t taking sides; mediators are interested simply in helping you find a solution that you can both live with. For a mediator, there are no battles to be won, just problems to be solved.
Our family mediation fees
You can find out more about the cost of family mediation with Mediation First by getting in touch with us. We’ll be able to give you an accurate estimate for the cost of your mediation once we’ve conducted both of your individual MIAM meetings, where we’ll assess your eligibility for legal aid and the Government’s £500 voucher. This also gives us a clear picture of the overall financial situation, which is vital in property and finance pages.
For more information, explore our mediation fee pages:
- Child mediation fees
- Property and financial mediation fees
- Civil and commercial mediation fees
- Workplace mediation fees
The cost of mediation is determined by a number of factors, and it can vary widely depending on your individual circumstances. There are also some financial support options available for those who qualify, such as legal aid and the government’s voucher scheme.
What is clear is that mediation will cost you significantly less than going to court. Obviously, mediation isn’t right for everyone. But if it is right for you, what have you got to lose by giving it a try? You certainly have a lot to gain.
Our mediation services
Move forward in life with the help of professional mediation. We are here to help with a range of disputes, ranging from:
- Family mediation
- Child mediation
- Civil and commercial mediation
- Workplace mediation
- Financial and property mediation
Get in touch with us to find out how we can help.