A mediator should communicate with the parties before initiating the formal mediation process, so that they together can identify any circumstances signaling a possible conflict of interest disqualifying her from participation. For instance, she should explore with the parties whether any of her past or current clients are adverse to one or both of them.
The mediator should take the following steps upon learning any information raising concern about the existence of a conflict of interest. She first should review the conflict-of-interest rules for mediators and any other professions of which she also is a member to determine their applicability. If those rules give no definite answer, then the mediator next should consult other sources, such as mediation-ethics opinions, publications for the mediation profession, the staff of any organization concerned with the regulation of mediators, and trusted colleagues. The mediator also should never lose sight of perhaps the most valuable guide in deciding whether there is a conflict of interest that disqualifies her: common sense.