Mediation is an informal process in which an impartial third party (the mediator), who is not representing the interests of either side, assists parties in a dispute to reach their own agreement. The mediator does not impose a solution on the parties. With the facilitation and assistance of the mediator, parties work together to negotiate and resolve the dispute.
Mediation has several potential benefits:
1. Preserving a working relationship
Mediation can help preserve a working relationship between parties with ongoing connections to one another, that is often destroyed through litigation in court. This is especially important to consider when the dispute arises between family members, in Family Law or Estate disputes. Because mediation is less adversarial than the court process it can help preserve the ability to relate to one another constructively in the future.
2. Less costly
A more summary and streamlined process can be tailored to the needs and interests of the parties, saving the expense of paying lawyers to prepare for and attend multiple court dates. The cost of a mediator, and any experts needed to assist with tax or valuation issues, is normally shared equally instead of each party paying their own lawyer and experts. This can save thousands of dollars in legal expenses required in the traditional court process.
3. Faster than court
Mediation usually takes months instead of years. Parties and their lawyers can be much more flexible in setting dates and agreeing on how important facts will be presented, without being tied to “one size fits all” court processes, timetables and rules about judicial conferences and steps. The same neutral third party is involved throughout a mediation or arbitration, whereas multiple judges may be involved at various steps in a court process.
4. Maintains privacy
Filings in a court proceeding are generally public documents, which can include embarrassing information about the parties and their history, their financial details or other private matters. A mediation or arbitration process happens outside of the court system, and negotiations held in that setting are “off the record” and “without prejudice” discussions that cannot be used in court.