Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process whereby the parties are assisted by a trained and skilled third party. The mediator facilitates confidential communication, reconciliation and negotiation between the parties to reach a voluntary and mutually agreeable resolution.
In legal litigation, the parties retain attorneys whose focusis to prepare a case which will result in the best decision for their client by a judge. Often, litigation includes an adversarial approach demeaning the other party. In litigation you never know what the outcome will be until the case is ruled upon. There are no guarantees that anyone will come out as the ‘victorious party’. In the long run, everyone pays a price in litigation.
Mediation is based on the principle that people are capable to resolve their own disagreements if given the right support. Generally, it is non-adversarial and the parties agree that all information will be openly shared in a safe, neutral environment. It is a voluntary and confidential process. Either party can withdraw or choose not to participate at any time. The mediator does not judge who is right or who is wrong, but works with parties to help them arrive at a solution to satisfy their interests. No tape recordings are made and no court reporter is present. The mediator will not reveal anything discussed during the mediation to anyone other than the participants. The mediator does not represent either party. Generally, the mediation does not include lawyers except in a consulting or reviewing capacity. However, in some cases, mediation includes both parties and lawyers.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF MEDIATION
Aside from low cost and high success rate, mediationprovidesfour important aspects.
Privacy. The process of mediation is confidential as it relates to all participants, including attorneys and the mediator. Everything discussed in the mediation is confidential. Any documents that are exchanged in the mediation are confidential. Any legal or other suppositions advanced in the mediation are confidential. Mediation is not a matter of public record.
Control. No judge will decide the parties’ outcome. There is no legal precedent or jury to scrutinize right and wrong. The parties have the unique opportunity to “tell your side of the story”, without lawyers objecting that what you’re saying is inadmissible for some reason. The parties have the experience of creating your own resolution in your own words to resolve their disagreement.
Relationships. Most relationships are important to maintain intact. Business partnerships, family, friendships and social relationships of long standing are often soothed and become closer as a result of mediation.
Responsibility. The mediation process encourages the parties to assume personal responsibility for their respective roles in the disagreement. It’s not blaming the other side but rather accepting ownership for the things contributed or done to create the disagreement. Remember, its takes two to tangle.
Speed. Resolution for most disagreements is usually achievable within a day or two and no longer than 30 days. More complex disputes and conflicts may require more time and communication to explore the interests and positions involved.