Mediation is most successful when the parties’ advocates/advisors are knowledgeable and skilled in the principles of the mediation process and negotiation theories.  Mediations can fail when party representatives act as if they were in a courtroom rather than in a negotiation.

Mediation presents unique problem-solving opportunities in which representatives can assist their clients to reach faster, cheaper and/or better outcomes with the assistance of a mediator.  They can help their clients achieve outcomes that may be unattainable in a courtroom or arbitration tribunal.  But to do that, they need a different set of knowledge and skills.


IMI has designed Criteria for programs qualifying competent Mediation Advocates/Advisors in order to establish a professional and technical basis for enabling disputing parties to identify professionals experienced in advising and representing clients in the resolution of disputes through mediation and related dispute resolution processes [1]. The Criteria are presented in two broad categories: General Requirements for the programs and Substantive Criteria for Mediation Advocates/Advisors Competency:

1.         General Requirements

A.  Methodology
B.  Transparency
C.  Integrity
D.  Ongoing Monitoring of Program
E.   Diversity

2.         Substantive Criteria

A.  Experience
B.  Knowledge (+ List of General Knowledge Requirements – Annex 1)
C.  Practical Skills (+ List of Practical Skills Requirements – Annex 2)

Any educational or professional institution may prepare a Mediation Advocacy Qualifying Assessment Program (MA-QAP) that meets these Criteria.  Once approved by the IMI Appraisal Committee (preceded by the IMI Independent Standards Commission (ISC)), professionals who pass the assessment of that MA-QAP will be qualified for IMI Mediation Advocacy Certification and may have their Profile included on the IMI Find a Mediation Advocate/Advisor Search Engine.

1.      General Requirements

Any MA-QAP must meet the following general criteria in order to be able to qualify professionals for IMI Mediation Advocacy Certification:

A.   Methodology

All MA-QAPs must implement an assessment methodology for assessing whether each applicant’s performance meets each of the Substantive Criteria in Section 2 below.

Comment: The assessments may be based on written material, role-play or live action evaluations, other suitable methods, or any combination, and may include videotaped and online assessments such as web dramas, self-assessments, interviews, peer reviews, user feedback and other in-practice skill evaluations.  Assessors must be experienced in representing clients in mediations and/or teaching/assessing mediation advocacy skills.

 B.   Transparency  

The substantive criteria (i.e. assessment benchmarks applied by an approved MA-QAP) must be published and be openly accessible on the organization’s website.

Comment: Details of all approved MA-QAPs are listed on the IMI Find a Program Page and include a direct link to each credentialing organization’s website for that program. 

C.   Integrity

Each Assessor must have substantial experience of mediation advocacy and/or teaching/assessing mediation advocacy competency.

D.   Ongoing Monitoring of Program

The MA-QAP must include a process for the ongoing monitoring of the performance and practice of the Assessors. IMI will liaise closely with all recognised program organizers to maintain a sustainable quality control system.

E.   Diversity

The MA-QAP must be accessible on an equal basis to applicants regardless of their professional affiliations, gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion, sexual orientation or other personal characterization. This should be clearly stated on each MA-QAP’s website.

2.      Substantive Criteria

Any program qualifying candidates for IMI Mediation Advocacy Certification must meet the following minimum substantive criteria with respect to all applicants:

 A.      Experience of the Mediation Process

The MA-QAP must include a methodology for ensuring that Applicants have demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Program’s Assessors experience of mediation as a mediation advisor/advocate in at least five mediations.  The QAP must include clearly identified criteria on this requirement.


  • IMI Certified Mediators
  • Mediators having acted as the sole mediator in at least 10 cases/200 hours, in countries where there are no Qualifying Assessment Program for IMI Certification

B.      Knowledge of Mediation Advocacy

The MA-QAP must include a methodology for determining that Applicants have demonstrated a strong understanding of general mediation advocacy theory and practice.  Written tests, essays, reports, theses and interviews may be used to determine such knowledge.  Applicants are expected to be tested on and exhibit a comprehensive understanding of Mediation Advocacy theory derived from the leading international textbooks on the subject (as listed in the annotated bibliography at[2]).  MA-QAPs may use the listing of Core Competency Knowledge Elements set out in Annex 1.

C.      Practical Mediation Advocacy Skills

The MA-QAP must include a methodology for the assessment of performance as a mediation advocate against a variety of benchmarks that together demonstrate a high degree of mediation advocacy competency.  The assessed benchmarks may be based on role-play or live action assessments, and may include videotaped and online assessments such as web dramas, self-assessments, interviews, peer reviews, user feedback and other in-practice skill evaluations. The ISC expects that the methodology used by MA-QAPs will address all the Core Competency Practical Skills sections and sub-sections in Annex 2 and will be sufficiently detailed (in the view of the ISC) to attest to an applicant’s demonstrated high level of competency as a Mediation Advocate.  However, it is not expected that all detailed Core Competency Practical Skills listed in Annex 2 will be assessed in the same depth, and MA-QAPs will be free to assess other practical skills not listed in Annex 2.

3. Nomenclature – Mediation Advocate/Mediation Advisor

Mediation is a form of facilitated negotiation which does not necessarily take place as part of a judicial or other adjudicative process.  Because mediation is an extra-legal process, not all professionals who may advise, represent and assist disputing parties in mediation are necessarily legally qualified.

In many countries, the term “advocate” and language equivalents of that word denote or imply that a person is a qualified lawyer and should not (and in some cases could