Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that allows parties to resolve their conflicts in a respectful and confidential environment. It is non-adversarial in nature, and the power to make the decisions rests with the parties. It is facilitated by a neutral third party, who is trained and experienced in assisting parties to resolve their conflicts.
The mediator does not have the authority to make decisions for the parties, and is not a factfinder. The mediator does not function as the judge or the attorney for either of the parties, but rather serves as the facilitator, helping the parties communicate, negotiate, and make informed decisions.
The parties should cooperate with the mediator in a good faith effort to resolve their conflict. They should come prepared with documents and other information to help the mediator understand the issues, and should be willing to disclose to the mediator information that is relevant and necessary to resolve the conflict. Parties should be prepared to discuss the facts and their perspective of the status of the conflict. Parties should also be prepared to listen to the other perspectives brought to the table, so that everyone can work in good faith to resolve the dispute.
As a general rule, absent a different agreement by the parties, the parties equally share the cost of the mediator’s rate, which is usually based on an hourly rate.
Some problems can be resolved quickly, and others take more time. Most problems can be resolved in one day-long session, though others may require follow-up sessions. The mediation will continue as long as the mediator feels progress is being made toward resolving the conflict.
Yes, except in the rare situation where safety of the mediator or the parties is at stake. The mediator will present a Confidentiality Agreement to be signed by all persons attending the mediation. The mediator will not report what happens in the privacy of a mediation session to anyone not in attendance at the mediation, and nothing said in the session can be used later in an arbitration or a court proceeding. All notes taken by the mediator will be destroyed after the mediation. The only information that is not confidential is whether or not an agreement has been reached and, if so, the terms of that agreement.
If the parties do not resolve their dispute through mediation, they may proceed with the next step in the dispute process, whether that be arbitration or litigation in court. For the most part, mediation does not stay any statutory deadlines.
You do not need to hire a lawyer solely to attend mediation. However, lawyers are involved. If you wish to consult a lawyer or retain one to attend mediation with you, those expenses will be borne by you.
The parties will prepare a short document detailing what the parties have agreed to. All parties will sign the document. The parties may also bring with them their own settlement agreement, which will set out the terms the parties have agreed to.