The last component of the definition describes mediation as a voluntary process to reach a mutually acceptable settlement of issues in dispute. Voluntary generally refers to both freely chosen participation and freely made agreements. Parties are not forced to mediate and settle by either an internal or external party to a dispute.
There is no legal liability to any party refusing to participate in a mediation process.
Since a mediator has no authority unilaterally to impose a decision on the parties, he cannot threaten the recalcitrant party with a judgement.
Voluntary participation does not however mean that there may not be pressure to try mediation. Other disputants or external figures, such as friends, colleagues at work, constituents, authoritative leaders, or judges, may put significant pressure on a party to try negotiation with the assistance of a mediator. Some courts in family and civil cases rule that parties must make a good faith effort in mediation before the court will be willing to hear the case. See: https://www.themediationcentre.co.za/news-info
Attempting mediation does not mean the participants are forced to reach agreements but the process rather strives to bring about transformation where there is conflict.
Moore, Christopher W., 2003. The mediation process: practical strategies for resolving conflict. 3rd edition: PB Printing
An article by Jim Melamed