Local authorities must make arrangements for parents and young people to receive information about mediation so that they can take part in mediation if they so choose before a possible appeal to the Tribunal.
The mediation session should be arranged, in discussion with the parents or young people, at a place and a time which is convenient for the parties. The body (or bodies) arranging the mediation must inform the parent or young person of the date and place of the mediation at least 5 working days before the mediation unless the parent or young person consents to this period of time being reduced.
The local authority and health representative(s) should be be able to make decisions during the mediation session.
Parents or the young person may be accompanied by a friend, adviser or advocate and, in the case of parents, the child, where the parent requests this and the local authority has no reasonable objection. In cases where parents are the party to the mediation and it is not appropriate for the child to attend in person the mediator should take reasonable steps (within terms of time, difficulty, expense etc) to obtain the views of the child. Young people with learning difficulties, in particular, may need advocacy support when taking part in mediation
Mediation is an informal, non-legalistic, accessible and simple disagreement settlement process run by a trained third party and designed to bring two parties together to clarify the issues, and reach a resolution. The mediation company are completely independent. It is voluntary, however the Local Authority MUST attend a mediation session within 30 days of the mediation company informing them of the request. If the local authority is unable to arrange mediation in a case which involves a disagreement on a matter which can be appealed to the Tribunal within 30 days it must tell the mediator. The mediation adviser must then issue a certificate within three days.
A parent or young person may decide they want to go to mediation before any appeal they might make to the Tribunal. Parents and young people have the right to appeal to the Tribunal but are not able to register an appeal without a certificate from the mediation company. Where the parent or young person decides not to go to mediation during or following contact with the mediation adviser the adviser will issue a certificate, within three working days of the parent or young person telling them that they do not want to go to mediation, confirming that information has been provided. The certificate will enable the parent or young person to lodge their appeal, either within two months of the original decision being sent by the local authority or within one month of receiving the certificate whichever is the later.
The parent or young person does not have to contact a mediation adviser, if they solely want to go to appeal regarding the naming of a school, college or other institution (section I.) Dispute resolution can be pursued in this circumstance to try resolve this without the need of an appeal.
Once mediation is completed about a matter which can be appealed to the Tribunal the mediation adviser must issue a certificate to the parent or young person within three working days confirming that it has concluded.