Conciliation is a process whereby a third party (the conciliator) is appointed as a neutral and unbiased person to help parties involved in a dispute achieve a settlement by steering negotiations towards an amicable conclusion.

Conciliation is an alternative dispute resolution similar to mediation, but with key differences.

The main difference between conciliation and mediation sits with the role of the conciliator:

  • A mediator will try and find common ground between parties without themselves assuming responsibility for developing or making any proposals for settlement; 
  • On the other hand, a conciliator will take a much more active and direct role in offering his opinion and making proposals for settlement.

A conciliator will weigh up each party’s position, offer their opinion as to the relative merits and make proposals regarding the terms of settlement. It is then for the parties to decide whether or not they accept the conciliator’s proposals as the conciliator will not impose any of their suggestions upon the parties.

If you are involved in a commercial dispute and feel working with a conciliator could help bring it to a conclusion acceptable to both sides, contact us today on 0845 872 6666 for information about our services.

The pros and cons of conciliation

As with most things, conciliation has both pros and cons:

The pros:

conciliation is most often used as a preventative method of resolving disputes – whereas the assistance of a mediator or arbitrator is often sought once a dispute is ongoing and it appears as though it may end up in court, a conciliator is typically appointed as soon as a dispute looks like it may occur;

conciliation is a preventative measure to allow the parties to resolve their differences with the benefit of maintaining business relationships;


  • conciliation can bring matters to a conclusion much sooner than if court proceedings are used;
  • the conciliation process is carried out on a confidential and without prejudice basis so that, if settlement is not achieved, the reasons for this are kept between the parties involved;
  • conciliation is useful when the parties want the input and direction from a third party, as opposed to the more passive steering approach offered by mediation;
  • and the cost of instructing a conciliator, especially as a preventative step as detailed above and if settlement can be reached, can significantly reduce the time and costs which parties spend on litigation;


The cons:

The main downside to conciliation is that it relies on the parties accepting the authority of the conciliator and wanting to achieve a resolution. If either of the parties involved do not enter the process with the right attitude, then it may prove a waste of time and money.

Contact JMW Solicitors  

Here at JMW we encourage our clients to give real consideration to exploring alternative dispute resolution and will offer our suggestions as to which method is appropriate for the circumstances of your dispute. While conciliation is not appropriate for every dispute, it is a tried and tested method of bringing matters to an amicable conclusion which serious thought should be given to. If you have a dispute and want to speak with a solicitor about conciliation please call us on 0845 872 6666 or complete our online enquiry form.

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