What is the Difference between Mediation, Negotiation and Conciliation

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With the advancement of technology and globalization, settling business deals and resolving disputes across borders has become increasingly common. Traditional litigation processes, with their inefficiencies and time-consuming nature, are no longer the preferred choice for many individuals. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods are gaining traction as a more efficient and cost-effective means of resolving conflicts.

While India is still in the process of fully adopting ADR, the legal system is recognizing its benefits. This blog provides an overview of ADR methods, their unique features, and their role in the Indian judiciary.


In India, many victims are hesitant to file complaints due to the lengthy duration of court proceedings. Civil cases, in particular, can stretch on for years. ADR addresses this issue by providing a faster resolution compared to traditional courts. It is a cost-effective alternative as it involves lower expenses than litigation.

ADR procedures differ from those of courts, allowing individuals to express their views and present facts more freely and fairly. Moreover, ADR promotes a cooperative atmosphere where parties maintain a decent relationship and work together towards a satisfactory settlement.


The Indian courts have long struggled with a significant backlog of cases, leading to delays and eroding public trust in the judiciary. ADR methods play a vital role in addressing this challenge by offering faster and more affordable justice.

To tackle the issue of pending cases, India is increasingly embracing ADR techniques. The diverse range of ADR mechanisms provides scientifically developed methods to support the Indian judiciary in resolving disputes efficiently.


While ADR may seem like a modern concept, its roots can be traced back thousands of years. Ancient Hindu texts, such as Kautilya’s Arthashastra, outlined various methods of dispute settlement, including conciliation, compensation, use of force, and the use of logic and influence. Similarly, the holy book of Islam, the Quran, detailed concepts of dispute settlement.

While ADR has historical precedence, it is essential to emphasize that its implementation requires supervision by the judiciary. Just as a baby needs the care and guidance of a mother, ADR needs the oversight of the judiciary to ensure fairness and adherence to legal principles.


As the world becomes more interconnected, alternative dispute resolution methods offer a promising solution to the inefficiencies of traditional litigation. While India is in the process of fully integrating ADR into its legal system, the advantages of ADR are being recognized.

By embracing ADR, India can overcome the challenges of lengthy court procedures, reduce the backlog of cases, and instil greater faith in the justice system. As society evolves, ADR will continue to play a crucial role in providing efficient and accessible dispute resolution for individuals and businesses alike.


Mediation is an extrajudicial alternative dispute resolution method whereby a neutral third party, often individuals with legal expertise such as former judges or attorneys, utilizes specialized communication and negotiation techniques to assist the disputing parties in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution.

The mediators’ primary role is to facilitate the negotiation process and help the parties explore potential settlement options. During mediation, the mediators may, with the parties’ consent, express their views on what could constitute a fair or reasonable settlement. However, the ultimate decision to settle and the terms of the settlement lie entirely with the parties involved.

This principle of self-determination is a fundamental aspect of the mediation process, granting the parties control over the outcome. At any stage, any party retains the right to withdraw from the mediation proceedings. Confidentiality is a vital aspect of mediation. Any information or statements shared during mediation cannot be disclosed in court proceedings or elsewhere without the written consent of all parties involved.

This ensures that the parties can freely express their perspectives and explore potential solutions without fear of their statements being used against them in future legal proceedings. The timeline for mediation can be determined by either the court or the parties themselves, depending on the circumstances. If a case is already in litigation, any settlement reached through mediation must be documented in a written agreement, signed by all parties, and submitted to the court for appropriate legal actions to be taken.

In summary, mediation provides a voluntary, confidential, and flexible process where parties in dispute maintain control over the decision-making and can work towards a resolution that meets their interests. It offers an alternative to traditional litigation and allows for a more collaborative and tailored approach to resolving legal disputes.


The Mediation Bill, 2021, aims to establish a separate mediation law in India, providing a common platform for mediation practice and removing inconsistencies in existing legislation. It recognizes mediation and conciliation as synonymous processes, and the bill states that mediation settlement agreements will have the status of a binding judgment or decree.

The bill mandates pre-litigation mediation as a requirement before approaching a court or tribunal. Parties can choose their mediator or select one from a recognized service provider. There is an exemption list for certain cases, but the focus should be on referring as many disputes as possible to mediation, excluding matters that require court intervention.

The composition of the mediation council under the bill has drawn criticism as it deviates from a professional body and aligns more with a governmental regulator. The chapter on online mediation needs to address confidentiality and privacy concerns, ensuring transparency and security for the parties involved. Community mediation is seen as an empowerment tool, and the bill allows for the settlement of disputes affecting peace and harmony through community mediation.

Establishing mediation cells in rural areas and training elders for effective mediation can strengthen the process. Concerns have been raised about international mediation being placed under domestic mediation in the bill, potentially undermining the enforcement of settlements under the Singapore Convention.

In conclusion, a separate legislation for mediation, along with reforms and a shift in stakeholders’ mindset, is crucial to establish mediation as the primary dispute resolution method in India. Awareness, redefined approaches, and a sustainable mediation practice are essential for its growth and effectiveness.


Negotiation is an essential process where conflicting parties engage in dialogue to find a common ground and reach a consensus. It can occur in various settings, including domestic, professional, and global contexts. Instead of engaging in public conflict, negotiation aims to seek mutually agreeable solutions.

Successful negotiation involves both giving and receiving, with a focus on maintaining a respectful conversation that convinces both sides. It requires making subtle compromises while offering what is significant to the other party. The negotiation process should aim to avoid misunderstandings and leave both parties content and open to future meetings.

There are different types of negotiations, such as team negotiation, which occurs between two organizations intending to merge, and multi-party negotiation involving three or more parties with various viewpoints.

Positional negotiation involves expressing and maintaining a firm position throughout the dispute, while distributive negotiation focuses on negotiating specific topics, such as price, where one party may win while the other may lose. Integrative negotiation deals with multiple topics and aims for an agreement that satisfies both sides, ensuring a balanced outcome.

The negotiation process follows several steps. Preparation involves outlining personal objectives, understanding the terms and conditions of the agreement, and devising a negotiation strategy. Building the underlying processes and rules of negotiation occurs through interaction with the opposing party.

Verification and reasoning involve explaining and justifying initial viewpoints while learning about the other party’s stance. Negotiation and problem-solving involve employing various negotiation techniques to reach the desired objectives. Finally, after an offer is accepted, the agreement’s provisions are formalized through methods that are agreeable to both parties.

In summary, negotiation is a vital process that seeks to find common ground and reach mutually satisfactory agreements. It involves understanding different negotiation types, following a structured process, and employing effective communication and problem-solving skills to achieve positive outcomes.


Conciliation is an alternative dispute resolution process facilitated by a conciliator, which aims to assist disputing parties in finding a mutually acceptable solution by improving communication and reducing tensions. The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, recognizes conciliation as a statutory mechanism under Sections 61 to 81 of Part III. In conciliation, the parties, with the guidance of a neutral third party (the conciliator), identify the issues in dispute, generate options, and explore alternatives to reach an agreement.

It is a confidential, voluntary, and private process where the conciliator helps facilitate a negotiated settlement. The objective of conciliation proceedings is to achieve a swift, cost-efficient, and amicable resolution to the dispute. If the parties agree to submit their dispute to conciliation, the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) assigns a conciliator from its panel of experienced professionals.

The location of the conciliation proceedings is either agreed upon by the parties or determined by the conciliator. During the proceedings, the conciliator listens to the case and proposes a settlement to the parties. If a settlement is reached, or if no agreement can be reached, the conciliator concludes the proceedings and notifies ICMA and the parties accordingly.

The costs of conciliation, including the remuneration of the conciliator and associated expenses, are typically divided equally between the parties involved.


Mediation, negotiation, and conciliation are distinct dispute resolution methods, each with its own characteristics and approach. One key difference lies in the involvement of a third party. Mediation and conciliation both utilize a neutral third party to facilitate the resolution process, while negotiation can be conducted solely by the disputing parties themselves.

In mediation, the role of the mediator is to remain neutral and act as a facilitator, assisting the parties in communicating effectively and exploring potential solutions. The mediator does not impose decisions but encourages the parties to reach a mutually agreeable outcome. On the other hand, a conciliator may have a more active role, suggesting potential solutions and actively intervening to help the parties find a resolution.

Decision-making authority also differs among the three methods. Mediation and negotiation empower the parties to make their own decisions and reach a mutually acceptable solution. In conciliation, the conciliator may propose settlement options for consideration by the parties, who retain the final decision-making authority.

Confidentiality is commonly maintained in mediation and conciliation to create a safe space for open communication. Discussions and information disclosed during these processes are typically kept private. Negotiation, particularly in business or legal contexts, may or may not have explicit confidentiality provisions.

Furthermore, the focus and scope of each method vary. Mediation emphasizes preserving relationships and fostering open communication to find a resolution that meets the parties’ interests. Negotiation primarily centres around reaching a compromise that addresses the parties’ needs. Conciliation often addresses power imbalances and aims to facilitate resolution in situations where direct negotiation may be challenging.

Understanding these distinguishing factors can help parties choose the most appropriate dispute resolution method based on their specific needs and circumstances.


Mediation, negotiation, and conciliation are distinct approaches to conflict resolution, each offering unique benefits and methods for resolving disputes. Mediation promotes collaboration and self-determination, negotiation empowers parties to advocate for their own interests, and conciliation combines elements of both, often focusing on relationship restoration.

Understanding the differences between these approaches can help individuals and organizations choose the most suitable method to address their specific conflicts effectively and efficiently. By employing the right approach, parties can work towards constructive solutions that promote mutual understanding and long-term resolution.

2 Day Certificate Masterclass on AI and LawBy: Professor (Dr) Sanjay Rout

📚 Masterclass Highlights:
- The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Legal Practice: Exploring the Possibilities and Limitations
- Future of Legal Education: Preparing Law Students for a Technology-Driven Future
- Blockchain and Smart Contracts in the Legal Industry: Opportunities and Challenges

Ticket Price: Rs. 149 (Early bird offer ending soon)

Don't miss this chance to delve into the future of law and technology with a renowned expert! Secure your spot now.

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