Look at a range of possible candidates, not just the first one you find or are offered by another party.
Experience and background - look for expertise in the area of the dispute e.g. commercial, family, construction or personal injury, but remember that mediation skills are at least as important as technical ones.
Look for accreditation or registration details, and that qualifications claimed are from a reputable training body.
Does the Mediator follow a recognised Code of Conduct?
Check the mediator has no conflict of interest. Mediation organisations will check this as routine, but help them by giving full information about parties and representatives as soon as you can.
Professional Indemnity Insurance - most mediators carry it but check. Is it enough to cover the dispute?
Consider the fee - is it for the whole mediation or PER PARTY? Is the fee for a half day or a full day? Does it include the mediator’s reading-in and other preparation (such as pre-mediation introductory conversations, or site inspections)? Will there be any overtime charge if the mediation needs to continue beyond the normal eight-hour day? Is VAT included or payable as well?
Geographical considerations. Will the mediator travel? Will travelling and possible accommodation costs add to the fee?
Does the mediator, the mediation provider, or one of the parties have suitable rooms available, or will the parties have to pay to hire accommodation?
Make sure you understand the mediator's style - remember the mediator will not make a decision, but will guide the parties to resolution. Most mediators in the UK are trained in 'facilitative' techniques, but some use evaluative or transformative ones also.
Will the other parties agree to this mediator? Explain why you consider the mediator to be appropriate (if you just suggest the name they may well reject on principle and suggest someone else.) Consider allowing the mediation organisation to make the suggestion instead.
Remember that it may not be possible to instruct your preferred mediator, especially a busy and in-demand one, if you only check his/her availability once all parties and their representatives have become committed to a single date.
Try to explore available dates for the mediator concurrently with your own and the other parties' diary checks. And while mediations can be organised at short notice, you have a better chance of securing your preferred mediator if you work at least a month in advance. Conversely, working too far in advance without confirming a date as soon as you can – letting the date negotiations drift – is also likely to result in you finding the mediator you want has been snapped up by someone else in the meantime.