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Mediation is an informal process where parties in a dispute come together and, with the help of the mediator, reach a settlement.
Many re-users of public sector information are reluctant to lodge a formal complaint against a public sector information holder because they feel that it could affect the future business relationship. Mediation provides a low cost and speedy alternative to going down the formal complaints path or going through the courts.
The National Archives has a number of Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) accredited mediators who can assist disputing parties to resolve disputes through mediation.
We have achieved some real success in our mediations, but even where settlement is not possible the process helps parties to narrow and clarify the issues that are at the heart of a dispute. Our independence guarantees you the impartiality that is essential in any mediation process.
The mediator's job is not to make or impose decisions, but rather to help the parties explore the issues and develop solutions. We will ensure the process is confidential and unbiased.
If both sides agree to mediation, the mediator will meet each party separately in the first instance to explore the issues.
The next stage is usually to facilitate a meeting involving both parties to the dispute. There is no fixed agenda in mediations: both parties will agree the scope and the issues to be covered. There are also no fixed results in mediation: both parties must agree on a solution.
The discussions are without prejudice and the parties can continue with proceedings if mediation fails. Following unresolved mediation, if parties wish to bring a formal complaint this will be investigated by an independent team within The National Archives that has not been involved in the mediation.
We can provide mediation services in the following areas:
- The re-use of public sector information. Issues could include potentially restrictive or unfair licensing clauses
- Information Fair Trader Scheme (IFTS)
- Crown copyright disputes relating to rights or licensing issues
There is no charge for using the mediation service.
If you would like to talk through options or explore whether the service may suit your needs, please contact the Standards Team at The National Archives (firstname.lastname@example.org).
These are examples of some of the issues we have dealt with.
- We mediated between a government department (IFTS member) and an organisation on the terms of a collective licensing agreement. The issues included transparency and fairness of terms, the mechanism of bulk discounts and an alleged breach of copyright. Mediation took place over a period of a year.
- One government agency (IFTS member) was concerned that a particular piece of legislation meant that information it was providing to a customer under licence would have to be provided free of charge by that customer to certain groups on request. They feared that these groups would be able to re-use it in any way they wished without obtaining a licence or making payment to the agency. We mediated between the agency and the customer and established that although the piece of legislation required access and permitted basic copying of the information, it did not amount to a right to re-use the information in any way without a licence.
- We mediated between two IFTS members to determine what should happen to the intellectual property rights when a non-Crown body commissioned a Crown body to produce work.
- We provided assistance to a government department (IFTS member) that was experiencing difficulties in getting one of its licensees to take appropriate action to resolve a breach of its licence conditions. We sent letters to the licensee about the issues raised by the department. The licensee then accepted that they had not fully complied with the licence terms. The licence was terminated and a new licence issued by the department.