The process should not be viewed only as an alternative to formal proceedings. Mediation can be very effective where there is an ongoing relationship between the parties, and where litigation may never arise.
The advantages are, however, pronounced when contrasted with court or tribunal proceedings.
The courts expect parties to consider mediation and can make adverse cost orders where mediation is unreasonably refused. It can be a more cost effective option even to tribunal claims given that tribunals can only award costs in exceptional cases. It should not, however, be seen as a weak option that has to be considerd for cost reasons alone.
Mediation is a strong, freestanding, option that allows parties to take back control and reach agreements based on what actually matters to them.