Understanding Mediation Costs: Your Essential Guide

by Aled Davies
May 27, 2024

Mediation has become a more popular approach to resolving disputes outside of court. With the help of a mediator who is neutral, parties that are in dispute collaborate toward a mutually agreeable resolution.

One of the benefits of mediation is its cost-effectiveness. Mediation fees tend to be considerably lower than legal fees, and financial support is also available for some types of mediation. Mediation is also a quicker process than going to court with most mediations taking only a day or so to resolve the dispute. Reduced legal fees and a shorter timeframe translate to lower costs for both parties.

This guide will help you learn about the costs associated with mediation sessions and the potential avenues for seeking financial assistance for mediation.

Understanding Mediation Costs

A clear understanding and breakdown of all costs associated with mediation will be an enormous help when deciding whether to choose mediation to resolve your dispute. See below to discover how much a typical mediation will likely cost you in the UK and learn under which circumstances financial assistance, such as legal aid funding, might be available to you.

How Much Does Mediation Cost in the UK?

Mediation sessions are either billed on an hourly basis or a daily basis. You can expect to pay anything from £150 per hour per party and up to £10,000 per day in large commercial disputes. So mediation fees vary quite considerably but there are many other factors that can impact the cost of a mediation session.  Here are just some of the main factors that can influence mediation costs in the UK:

  • Type of mediation: The type of mediation will influence the cost. For example, commercial mediation costs will be significantly higher than a workplace mediation or a family mediation.
  • Duration of mediation: Naturally the duration of the mediation session will impact the cost. If the session only lasts a few hours then that will be much less costly than a mediation that runs for a day or more. Workplace mediation sessions might only be scheduled for half a day whereas a commercial mediation is commonly an entire day with pre-mediation sessions included. 
  • Mediator's experience: The mediator's qualifications and experience will also impact the cost. A highly experienced and trained mediator will charge a higher hourly or daily rate on the basis that they are likely to be more effective at their job of facilitating the mediation session and assisting the parties to reach a settlement. Although this is not always the case and it’s always worth inquiring into the mediator’s experience before selecting one. 
  • Pricing structure: Mediation services generally charge fees based on a daily or hourly fixed fee rate. Some mediation services will offer specific packages that may include preparation time included in the day rate. Others might offer a free up-front consultation, often called a pre-mediation session. 
  • Location: Naturally the location will also have an impact on the overall costs of the mediation. For examplemediation rates are likely to be higher in major metropolitan cities like London for a variety of reasons. Room rental costs might be more expensive, for example.
  • Legal aid options: Disputes that are eligible for legal aid or government funding will naturally result in lower mediation expenses. Other funding options are also available, especially in workplace mediation, where the employer typically pays for the mediation.

There is always some preparation involved from the mediator, some charge for this service others include in it in their fee. Similarly if the mediation doesn’t reach a settlement during the planned session there can be some follow-up support required, by email or over the phone.  Again, some mediators might charge a fee for this and others might include this service in their daily fee rate. It's prudent to thoroughly check your options and clarify with the mediator which costs are fixed and whether there are any additional fees.

Do Both Parties Pay for Mediation?

Yes, the general practice is for the cost of mediation to be divided equally between the parties.

There could be variations to the payment structure, depending on factors like financial disparity and legal aid eligibility. Agreement on payment schemes could also vary based on individual circumstances, such as the ones below:

  • Workplace mediation: Where a dispute occurs within the workplace between employees then the organisation would typically pay the fees of the mediator.
  • Community mediation: Neighborhood disputes like noise complaints or pet issues can be dealt with through community mediation services. The mediation organisation typically relies upon volunteer mediators who give their time for free to run these mediation sessions. Community mediation services are usually funded by local authorities, housing associations or charitable donations and provide these services free to the community. Family mediation: Family mediation is available from different services and costs vary depending on the service and the financial circumstances of the parties. Many people engaging in family mediation will benefit from some form of financial support to access a service.
  • Court-order mediation: In some instances, a court may require mediation to resolve a dispute before proceeding to trial. In this case, the court could make arrangements based on each party's ability to pay.

Can You Get Free Mediation?

It is possible in some circumstances to access free mediation or low-cost or a subsidised mediation service. Community mediation is the most common service that offers mediation free of charge. Some local authorities or charities offer legal aid for personal disputes like community or family mediation.

Some mediation services provide free initial consultations that help you to determine whether mediation is suitable for your particular circumstance. 

Some mediators offer a pro-bono service whereby a proportion of their caseload are allocated to providing a free service to disputes that are of low-value or where parties are experiencing financial hardship.  

Legal Aid and Mediation

The availability of legal aid is more common for family mediation situations like child arrangements or financial agreements during a divorce. However, it's not always guaranteed.

For you to become eligible for legal aid, you must meet the income and capital thresholds set by the government. This means that your income, savings, and assets should fall below these thresholds.

To see if you qualify for legal aid in the UK, visit the online Legal Aid Checker, or ask a local mediator within a professional organisation like the Family Mediation Council.

The Role of the Family Mediation Council

The Family Mediation Council (FMC) is one of the bodies that plays role in overseeing and promoting family mediation in the UK. The FMC sets standards for the accreditation of family mediators, ensuring that mediators always maintain the required competency and ethics. Others include the Family Mediator’s Association and National Family Mediation, and the Family Mediation Section of the Civil Mediation Council.

In addition, these organisations also maintain registers and lists of accredited family mediators. This makes it easier for people to find a qualified mediator who is best suited for their specific family mediation cases.

What is the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme?

The Family Mediation Voucher Scheme is an initiative that helps families fund mediation for child arrangements during separation. This voucher scheme could encourage families to choose mediation instead of resolving issues in court.

Let's break down the key aspects that affect a family's eligibility for the voucher scheme:

  • Eligibility: The family mediation session should focus on child arrangement issues, and the family must have children under 18 years old.
  • Voucher's total value: Eligible families receive a voucher worth up to £500. However, this £500 voucher may not be able to cover all costs if the process requires more mediation sessions.
  • Voucher coverage: The voucher can be used to cover the mediator's fees and other costs. However, it doesn't cover the expenses associated with MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting). MIAM is a pre-mediation meeting that evaluates how suitable mediation is to a family's case.
  • Application process: After attending the MIAM, your chosen FMC-accredited family mediator will initiate the voucher application process on your behalf. The mediator will inform you of your voucher eligibility before the first mediation session.

Tips to Save on Mediation Costs

While mediation is already a cost-effective method of resolving a dispute, you can potentially make additional savings in several ways.

Opt for Online Mediation

If the other side is willing to conduct the mediation online using Zoom or Microsoft Teams then that could bring the cost down dramatically. You’ll save on travel expenses, room hire and the mediator may charge you less for this service as it’s more convenient for them.

Explore Free Consultations

Where possible, take advantage of any free consultations a mediator or mediation service might offer you. Through these free consultations you can get a better understanding of the process and perhaps help determine whether your case is suitable for mediation. 

Prepare for Sessions

Before you attend a mediation session, it's essential that you come prepared and willing to participate in the discussions. If you’re attending with your solicitor, as is likely if its a civil or commercial dispute, then make sure they helped you prepare for the session by exploring your negotiation strategy, understanding what your options and alternatives to a mediation settlement are. Good preparation will not only save you time on the day but give you a better chance at reaching a settlement in mediation.    


Your first step is to familiarise yourself with the process of mediation which will help you get a better understanding of the costs associated with mediation. You can discuss the costs and fees with your mediator who will help you to make an informed decision so that you can confidently approach the process.

Elevate Your Career with Mediation

Mediation has become a popular dispute-resolution method across various settings and a promising career pathway for many people. If you aspire to become an accredited mediator, you can hone your skills through trusted mediation schools like Mediator Academy.

Discover the financial and professional benefits of becoming a mediator.

Sign up for our course today and start your journey towards a rewarding career.