The process of Schlichtung – arbitration, mediation, conciliation – is a bit different in every case. To get a sense for the process it is helpful to take a look at the Mediationsgesetz – mediation law, for there is actually a law in Germany supporting out-of-court arbitration.

The law states clearly that the Schlichter takes a neutral position during the mediation. She or he is to lead the conflict parties to a consensual (both agree freely) resolution of the conflict, so as to avoid the need for a court case.

The Schlichter speaks with each party separately in order to reconstruct the conflict as objectively as possible. But what does “objective” actually mean? The mediation law does not answer that question. It is the job of the Schlichter, typically via a long process, to find the truth.

The one conflict party tries to prove the guilt of the other party. That party, in turn, does their best to prove lack of guilt. The mediator does her best to get as objective a picture of the situation as possible.