Mediation - the art of getting along.
Mediation is a process by which a neutral third party called a mediator helps people in conflict negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement. The parties to the mediation control the outcome. A mediator facilitates communication, promotes understanding, assists the parties to identify their needs and interests, and uses creative problem-solving techniques to enable the parties to reach their own agreement.
Unlike court or arbitration, no one imposes a solution on a party. If all of the parties do not agree to the result, the dispute remains unresolved. Mediation gives parties much more control over the way their dispute or difference is dealt with and over the outcome. If negotiations have so far failed, mediation provides an alternative to pursuing litigation or other more formal processes. The scope for solutions is usually greater than the remedies available in courts and tribunals, or even in prolonged negotiation.
What are the advantages of Mediation?
- Affordable – Mediation costs considerably less than litigation.
- Efficient – The mediation process can usually settle a dispute within a few sessions. Most mediations conclude or settle within thirty days from initiating the process.
- Effective – Mediation statistically settles over 85% of initiated disputes.
- Informal -The process of Mediation is flexible and informal. It is not necessary to have an attorney represent you during the mediation process. However, some individuals feel more comfortable with attorney representation.
- Empowering – Disputing parties are directly engaged in the negotiation of their settlement. Parties also enhance the likelihood of continuing their relationships by utilizing mediation.
- Confidential – Information disclosed during mediation may not be divulged as evidence in any trial or judicial proceeding, except so far as required by law or with the consent of the parties.
Prior to the actual mediation process, mediators will start their jobs by calling each party to understand how to craft mediation rules specifically for their case, explain how the logistics of the mediation will play out, and determine whether there are things that the mediator should know that aren’t included in the written statements. These aspects will all vary on a case by case basis, though a good mediator will be able to adapt quickly and easily for both parties to ensure an objective view of the case and make the negotiations process as efficient as possible. While the bulk of progress occurs during the actual mediation, taking the time to get all parties on the same page and enter mediation without any surprises can save valuable time and money for everyone involved.
The actual mediation process looks different for every case, given that some mediations include both parties while others are separate, though a few aspects of mediation are likely to remain in place either way. First, mediators take the time to hear and understand both party’s opening statements. During this process, mediators are looking not only to understand the elements of dispute but what might motivate each party to make concessions on various parts of the case. After hearing both statements, mediators will sometimes hold a private discussion with each party while the other party is out of the room. During these discussions, the mediator will make observations over the facts of the case, explain the strengths and weaknesses of each side, and ensure that each party feels heard as to their side of the story. Similarly, mediators will constantly pursue creative and adaptable plans for settlement and communicate between the two parties, guiding them to resolution while preserving ongoing relationships. If an agreement can be met, the mediator will draft a statement including the terms of agreement, allowing each party to move considerably closer to the end of the suit and reach a desired outcome.
If a case can be settled during mediation, the mediator ensures that the agreement is signed and sent to both parties. If a case is unable to be settled during the mediation session, the mediator might follow up to keep all parties engaged in the process and focused on resolution. During communication after the mediation session, the mediator will recommend whether further mediation would prove fruitful for both parties and exhaust all reasonable options for resolution.
If your case might benefit from mediation, reach out to a professional and experienced mediator to understand what options are available to you and whether mediation would be right for your case.