Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution, aimed at resolving disputes between two or more parties with concrete effect. Mediation is a purely voluntary process but some contracts require parties to engage in mediation before commencing a litigation or an arbitration.
Parties can choose to mediate their disputes before a lawsuit or arbitration is filed. They can also mediate during a lawsuit or arbitration. Mediation has the potential to avoid months or years of litigation. However, if the parties are not yet ready to settle their dispute, mediation can waste the resources of the parties.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a structured, interactive process through which a neutral third party assists parties in resolving conflict. All participants in mediation are encouraged to actively participate in the process.
Mediation is a “party-centered” process, in that it is focused primarily upon the needs, rights, and interests of the parties. In mediation, a neutral third party, called the mediator, uses a wide variety of techniques to guide the dispute resolution process in a constructive direction and to help the parties find their optimal resolution. Many courts offer free or lower-cost mediation programs. Private organizations also provide mediation services for varying degrees of costs.
Mediation is also evaluative in that the mediator analyzes issues while refraining from providing prescriptive advice to the parties.
What are the Benefits?
The mediation process is private and confidential, and participation is voluntary. The mediator facilitates, rather than directs, the process. Any participating party is free to end their participation in the process at any time unless and until an amicable resolution is reached. The process itself is “non-binding,” meaning the parties do not create any obligations for themselves by participating unless and until a mutually-acceptable agreement reached and a binding settlement agreement signed by the parties.
Additionally, settlement communications made between the parties during a mediation, absent few exceptions, are typically inadmissible in court, should the mediation, despite mediation’s high success rate, happen to be unsuccessful and litigation results instead.
Mediation is an Important Alternative to Consider
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