February 18, 2023

Difference between Mediation and Conciliation

This article has been written by Manaswini Vakulabharanam, a student studying BA.LLB from Pendekanti law college, Hyderabad.  The author is a second-year student.

     Mediation and Conciliation are two different methods which help the disputed parties to resolve their disputes.  These two terms are often confused and are thought to be synonyms, in this article we will look into the differences between the two.  


     “An ounce mediation is worth a pound arbitration and a ton litigation.”

  • Joseph Grynbuam

     Mediation is an Alternative dispute Redressal mechanism; it is a voluntary and informal method of resolving disputes.  It is a voluntary, binding process in which an impartial and neutral mediator facilitates disputing parties in reaching a settlement.  A mediator creates such an environment in which the disputing parties can resolve all their disputes.  Mediation is such a process which is under the control of the parties.  The mediator acts as a middle person who helps to resolve the disputes.  They are trained professionals or sometimes attorneys who assist the parties in dispute to meet at a common place where they can discuss their issues and can try to negotiate to reach at a common point.  Mediation is a structured process where neutral person uses specialized communication and negotiation techniques.  A process of facilitating parties in resolving their disputes.  A settlement process whereby disputing parties arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement.  The mediator can be appointed by the mutual consent of the parties or the court may appoint arbitrators in pending litigations.  In Mediation the parties are the decision makers, the arbitrators or the mediators cannot impose their decisions on the parties.  The mediators can only suggest an opinion to the parties but cannot impose their decision on them.  The goal of the mediation is to bring both the parties to a common point and reach a solution to resolve the dispute.  Mediation in layman’s terms is an alternative dispute redressal mechanism where a neutral third party helps in resolving the disputes, usually the third party is the person mutually selected by the parties to resolve their issue or dispute.  

     The Mediation is further classified into two types:

  1. Court Referred Mediation:  The court refers the pending cases which it thinks can be resolved by the process of mediation.  This act of referring to cases is given under section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.  These kinds of mediations can be used in the matters of divorce, cases under the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. (Cheque bounces, etc).
  2. Private Mediation:  In this kind of mediation a private or a neutral third party is chosen by the parties, who help in resolving the disputes.

     Mediation is tried and tested alternative method of dispute resolution. It has proved to be a great success in the cities of Delhi, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Nagpur, Chandigarh and Aurangabad.  Litigants participating in the mediation process have unequivocally endorsed it.


     Conciliation is mentioned under ‘The Arbitration and Conciliation act, 1996’.  The term conciliation is not defined in the Act.  However, simply put conciliation is a confidential, voluntary and private dispute resolution process in which a neutral person helps the parties to reach a negotiated settlement.  This method provides the disputing parties with an opportunity to explore options aided by an objective third party to exhaustively determine if a settlement is possible. Like arbitration, the Act covers both domestic and international disputes in the context of conciliation. International conciliation is confined only to disputes of commercial nature. As per the Act, the definition of international commercial conciliation is exactly similar to that of international commercial arbitration.  Accordingly, the Act defines international commercial conciliation as conciliation proceedings relating to a dispute between two or more parties where at least one of them is a foreign party.  The foreign party may be an individual who is foreign national, a company incorporated outside India, or the government of a foreign country. 

      In Conciliation, the conciliators are trained and qualified neutral person who help the conflicting parties to make them understand the issues in dispute and their interest to reach mutually accepted agreements. The conciliation process includes the discussion between the parties which is made with the participation of the conciliator. It covers many disputes like industrial disputes, marriage disputes, family disputes etc. This allows the parties to control the output of their dispute. The result is also likely to be satisfactory.

     There are two types of conciliations:

  1. Voluntary conciliation:  This kind of conciliation is used commonly when the disputed parties want to voluntarily participate in the settlement of their disputes.
  1. Compulsory conciliation:  This kind of conciliation is used when the parties don’t want to voluntarily settle their dispute or they don’t want to come face to face to each other, this kind of conciliation is usually used in labor cases.

Difference between Mediation and Conciliation

Point of comparisonMediationConciliation
MeaningMediation refers to a process of settling disputes by independent and impartial neutral third party who assists the parties to reach a common outcome.Conciliation is an alternative dispute resolution method in which an expert is appointed to resolve a dispute by convincing the parties to agree upon an agreement.
RegulationBy the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.By the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.
Number of third partiesOne mediator.One or more conciliator.
ConfidentialityIn Mediation confidentiality depends upon the thrust, and it is advised for all parties to sign a confidentiality clause for extra measure.In conciliation confidentiality is determined by the law.
Nature of third partyIn mediation the mediator should be impartial and objective to the parties’ dispute.In conciliation the conciliator plays a more active role.  
Third partyIn Mediation the mediator does not give any judgment.In conciliation the conciliator also plays the role of evaluation and intervention for settling the dispute.




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