I spent a very interesting day at Halliwells' offices in Manchester today listening to Andrew Fraley on time limited mediation. My father, who was a schoolmaster, often remarked that the best teacher training manual that he had ever read was Nicolò Machiavelli's "Prince". After hearing Andrew, I have to conclude that mediation is pretty Machiavellian as well.
Andrew's rates for what he calls a "Mediated Settlement Conference" are £495.00 + VAT per party. These can last anything from 40 minutes to 6 hours. He walked us through a typical mediation from the moment he arrives at the reception of the venue genially wishing everyone who comes in "good morning" to the time he draws up heads of agreement. He keeps formal joint sessions to a minimum, rarely reads papers and concentrates entirely on the process of dispute resolution at the expense of the content of a dispute. He begins the process by asking the parties what they want to achieve from the mediation by the end of the day. This is followed by the question "and what else?" That in turn is followed by "and what else" until the parties are left exhausted.
Usually the dispute is about money. There, the mediator's job is to bridge a divide between the lowest that the claimant will accept and the most that the defendant is willing to offer. A party's insistence that he won't settle for a penny more (or less as the case may be) opens up a wonderful opportunity to jump to the bottom line.
Much of Andrew's wisdom is on his website at http://www.andrew-fraley.com/. There is a lot of good stuff there including his "Mediation Overview", "Agreement to Mediate", "Case Preparation" notes and "Agreement".