How to become a mediator in South Africa

Thursday, October 6, 2022, 11:23
Author name
Andrew Banks
A picture of a mediator and a couple to represent how to become a mediator in South Africa

The amendment to the High Court Rules (Rule 41A) made it mandatory for any parties at the outset of contemplated litigation, to consider mediation.  With cost orders being issued against any attorneys who don’t attempt mediation.  This amendment means that there has never been a better time to become a mediator in South Africa, especially if you are a qualified attorney. 

With this amendment making mediation the norm in dispute resolution, there are many people wanting to become mediators, especially attorneys.  Let’s explore how to become a mediator in South Africa, what qualifications you will need, and how to start a career as a mediator.


What is mediation?

Before we look at how to become a mediator in South Africa, we will look at what mediation is, and what a mediator does.

Mediation is a structured process where an impartial third party (the mediator) intervenes between two disputing parties to resolve the conflict.  The mediator achieves this by facilitating discussion between the parties. In these discussions, the mediator assists the disputing parties in identifying the issues that lead to the conflict.  The mediator will then explore where the parties are willing to compromise on these issues, and then produce various options to try and resolve the dispute.

Mediation is often a better conflict resolution solution as it offers a speedy resolution of disputes.  This helps to improve the case flow of the courts, as there are fewer disputes that must appear before the courts.  Mediation also offers a win-win situation for both parties and promotes reconciliation between disputing parties.  It is also a more flexible process than litigation that avoids technicalities.  With so many advantages it is easy to see why Rule 41A was introduced into the High Court Rules.


How to become a mediator in South Africa

If mediation sounds like your dream job, or you want to handle the Rule 41A required mediation yourself, you are probably wondering how to become a mediator in South Africa.  Fortunately, we are here to help with exactly that.

To become a mediator in South Africa you must complete a mediation training course on the basis of which you can apply for accreditation.  The mediation training course must have a 40-hour duration minimum, must have assessment requirements, and must give certification of your attendance and competence.  Lawyers are required to undergo an additional 12-hour training session in Mental Health. 

Psychologists and social workers are required to undergo an additional 12-hour training session in Family Law.  Any other trainee is required to undergo both the Mental Health and Family Law training sessions.  These training courses give you the theoretical knowledge that you will need to become a mediator. 

There is also practical training required to become a mediator in South Africa.  This practical training comprises three mediation sessions that are done under the supervision of a trained mediator.  Alternatively, you can undergo 10 hours of role play to become a mediator.  This practical training combined with the aforementioned theoretical training will give you the qualifications necessary to become a mediator in South Africa.


How to start a career as a mediator

Once you have completed the previously discussed qualifications, and have your certificate, you will be eager to start your career as a mediator.  However, before you can start working as a mediator, we recommend you seek accreditation with the National Accreditation Board for Family Mediators (NABFAM).  You can mediate without being accredited but such an accreditation will give you authority in this regard.

In order to obtain this accreditation, you must participate in at least 3 supervised mediation sessions. Each session must be a minimum of 1 hour long and must be supervised by a NABFAM accredited supervisor. As previously mentioned, you can opt to do 10 hours of role-play instead.

Once you complete these sessions the supervisor will issue you a letter of completion and competence.  Once you have this you can apply to NABFAM to be an accredited mediator.  It is worth noting that NABFAM accreditation is valid for 12 months from the date of accreditation after which you must apply for continued accreditation. 

Once you have this accreditation you can begin working as a mediator.  Qualified mediators can often find work with law firms or the courts.  Though some prefer to start their own mediation practice or work freelance.  There are many options for an accredited mediator to start their career.


How much do mediators earn?

While there are many types of specialised mediators, they are all divided into two types, these are Level 1 mediators and Level 2 mediators.  These two types of mediators have different qualifications and earning potentials, though any mediator requires the qualifications mentioned above.  A Level 1 mediator must have a minimum of an NQF (National Qualifications Framework) level 4 (Matric).  These mediators charge 450 per hour for their services, with a legally set maximum of R4500 per day for a single mediation.  A Level 2 mediator must have an NQF level 7 (Bachelor's degree) qualification or higher, and a minimum of 5 years of mediation experience.  These mediators charge R600 per hour for their services, with a legal maximum of R6000 per day for a single mediation.  While you don’t need a degree to become a mediator, it does allow you to earn more.


You may also be interested in:

Establishment of a specialised Family Court in Johannesburg

Family matters: The attorney’s obligation to offer divorce mediation instead of litigation



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