What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a dispute-resolving process that includes a neutral third party, or mediator. The two opposing parties are not given a judgement by the mediator, but rather the mediator acts as an aid and facilitator of communication in order to allow the parties to reach a conclusion meeting both of their goals and needs. The mediator will listen to the grievances and disputes between the parties and offer guidance by suggesting new solutions, acting as a channel of communication by reinterpreting opposing views, and moving the parties towards a settlement by underscoring common ground, perspectives, and goals. The main objective of mediation is that the two opposing parties, assisted by the mediator, can reach a solution facilitated by their own immediate and first-hand discussions.
Mediation can be initiated at any point before or during a lawsuit. It can be initiated by the parties themselves either through an agreement or a perviously signed clause, or by the court. The selected mediator must be a neutral third party. This individual can be either a lawyer, or at times, a retired judge. A court panel neutral is a mediator hired by the courts, and is usually cheaper than a private neutral. During the process, the plaintiff must contact the chosen mediator and set up the meetings between the mediator, plaintiff, and defendant. Once the mediation is completed, the parties must either reach a settlement or take the case to trial.
It may seem as though mediation is very similar to arbitration – another form of alternative dispute resolution. However, there are many differences between the two, including that arbitration leads to a judgement, but mediation does not. Furthermore, arbitration is a much more formal process similar to that of a trial, while mediation is informal and allows for the parties to control the negotiations and the result. An important note is that mediation does not need the participation of the actual clients. The attorneys will conduct the negotiations on behalf of their clients, always ensuring that a potential settlement meets the client’s goals.