When parties have a dispute and are unable to resolve it themselves, they may want to consider mediation. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution and it occurs outside of court. It is generally less expensive, less formal and more time-efficient than going to court.
The mediator is a neutral third party who helps the parties reach an agreement. The mediator does not impose a settlement on the parties.
It is a confidential and non-binding process. Each party is required to sign an agreement stating that they will keep all discussions in the mediation confidential.
The mediator will usually begin by explaining the mediation process, each stage, his or her role and the confidentiality requirements of each party. Then, each party will have an opportunity to provide an uninterrupted opening statement to explain his or her position and to hear the other side’s position.
After the opening statements are complete, the mediator and the parties can ask questions and the mediator will usually have a private discussion with each side.
These private discussions provide the parties with an opportunity to help the mediator understand their concerns and interests. The mediator can then help the parties decide the proposals they’d like to provide to the other side to resolve the issue.
Once the parties reach a settlement agreement, it will be put in writing and if the parties agree, it will also be an enforceable contract.
Mediation can be a useful alternative to going to court. An experienced attorney can provide representation to parties during mediation, offer additional insight about the process and answer questions.