Opening Statements in Mediation


1.   General Purposes of Opening Statements

  1. Establish roles including mediator’s role as manager of the process
  2. Develop constructive relationship between mediator and participants
  3. Develop confidence in the mediator
  4. Establish behavioral expectations (“ground rules”)
  5. Determine and foster commitment to mediate cooperatively
  6. Set initial agenda
  7. Comply with ethical codes

2.   Issues Often Covered in Opening Statements

  1. Alert participants how long opening statement may take
  2. Introductions, possibly including mediator’s qualifications
  3. Attendance, e.g.,
  1. check on use of first / last names
  2. presence of advisors, observers
  3. photos of children not attending
  4. whether necessary participants are missing
  5. negotiators present have “sufficient” authority


  1. Purpose(s) of mediation and mediator’s role
  2. Impartiality / neutrality of mediator
  3. Procedures, e.g., who speaks first
  4. Right to counsel / Roles of principals and attorneys
  5. Principals’ control over outcome – voluntariness in reaching agreement
  6. Confidentiality
  7. Private meetings (“caucuses”) and privacy of information provided in these meetings; time may not be equal etc.
  8. Time expectations for session and entire process
  9. Other ground rules / guidelines, e.g., one person speaks at a time, respect, name-calling, suggestion to take notes
  10. Housekeeping, eg, bathrooms, breaks, (no) smoking
  11. Opportunity for participants to ask questions
  12. Readiness / commitment of participants to proceed


© John Lande 1996-2000. Permission to copy granted if copyright notice is retained for credit.