What is mediation?
Mediation is a process by which parties in conflict employ a neutral mediator to assist them in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement resolving all issues between them.
With the guidance of a mediator experienced in the relevant area of law, and with assistance from their own attorneys, the participants are able to negotiate a reasonable settlement – promptly, privately, without hostility and at an affordable cost. The process is purely voluntary. The results are binding only if agreed to by all parties.
Mediation is often a sensible alternative to litigation which is expensive and time-consuming and frequently yields capricious results. More than 90% of all mediations result in a final settlement, thus avoiding the financial and personal ordeal of a trial.
What are the benefits of mediation?
The benefits of mediation are many:
- Mediation produces a reasonable settlement, designed by the parties rather than imposed upon them by a court.
- Mediation is cost-effective, avoiding much of the legal fees and expenses incurred in contested litigation.
- Mediation results in a prompt resolution of the controversy. Litigation frequently consumes several years before trial, while most mediated settlements are concluded in one session.
- Mediation is a dignified method of dispute resolution. Unlike litigation, where the focus is usually on blame, mediation emphasizes problem-solving and risk analysis, and requires cooperation from the participants. Mediation permits relationships to be kept intact.
- Mediation is flexible. In litigation, the scope of remedies is quite limited while mediation encourages imaginative solutions to complex problems.
- Mediation brings closure to the dispute. After the parties have reached a settlement in principle, the settlement is promptly reduced to a binding written agreement.
- Mediation is confidential. While court proceedings are open to the public, mediation sessions are always private.
What happens in a mediation?
Mediation involves a series of joint and individual sessions among the participants, their counsel, and the mediator. Each party is given an opportunity to explain its position and hear the position of the other.
The goal of mediation is to reach a reasonable and final settlement. The mediator has no authority to decide the dispute. His role instead is to facilitate open communication and fair dealing, helping the parties to fashion a solution that is in their mutual best interest. Where appropriate, the mediator may assist them and their attorneys in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of their positions and in analyzing the risks and expense of litigation.
After the parties have reached accord on all issues, the mediator or counsel draft the settlement agreement. Once the agreement is signed, the settlement is final and binding.