What is Mediation?
Sometimes, when legal disagreements arise, one or both parties might suggest mediation before taking the case to a courtroom. Whether or not the case has already been filed with a court of law, mediation before the court date can often result in a settlement that is satisfactory to both sides.
Participation in mediation is voluntary, except in cases governed by statute or contract clause. Some examples of cases that frequently benefit from mediation are:
- Domestic relations
- Workers compensation
- Labor or employment cases
- Personal injury
- Commercial transactions
Why choose mediation? A skilled mediator can help all involved parties identify their primary goals, and work to craft a solution that is agreeable to all. Often mediation will allow both sides of the conflict to wrap up the case more swiftly, and avoid lengthy court proceedings. Mediation might also feel more “safe”, because involved parties have an opportunity to contribute to the eventual solution, rather than leaving the entire case (and judgment) in the hands of a judge.
Often, because mediation saves time and reduces court proceedings, both parties can save money on legal expenses by pursuing this course of action.
How does mediation work? At any point before the final court date, involved parties can agree to attempt mediation. Obviously, more time and money are likely to be saved when mediation is attempted early on in the dispute.
Mediation is held at a neutral location, and both parties are allowed (but not required) to bring legal counsel. Each side presents their account of the facts and circumstances that led to the conflict, and the mediator helps each to identify areas of agreement. Areas of dispute are weighed and negotiated as a settlement gradually takes shape.
If a settlement agreement is indeed reached, court proceedings and judgment are successfully avoided. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will likely proceed to court.
Mediation does not solve every problem, but is often successful if both parties can keep an open mind. Rarely does anyone completely “get their way” in mediation, but most people feel more satisfied with a win-win solution to which they contributed, rather than leaving the whole matter in a judge’s hands.
For more information on mediation, contact our attorneys. We can help you decide if mediation might be the right way to proceed with your dispute.