Helping You Find A Resolution Outside The Courtroom
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a private, confidential, and affordable alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process. Mediation can be held prior to or during litigation. It is a meeting between two or more parties involved in a dispute, together with a neutral mediator. The mediation conference typically takes place in an office setting, where the parties meet together first and then often break into ‘caucus’ (a private sidebar discussion between one party and the mediator). Each party gets to tell their full side of the story, without interruption. The mediator listens, takes notes, and then asks questions. If the parties can come to an agreement to resolve their dispute, then the mediator will draw up a stipulation for them to sign, outlining the terms of their agreement. If no agreement is reached, the parties go their separate ways.
What Is The Role Of The Mediator?
In accordance with the Florida Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators, the role of the mediator is to reduce obstacles to communication, assist in the identification of issues and exploration of alternatives, and otherwise facilitate voluntary agreements resolving disputes. The ultimate decision-making authority, however, rests solely with the parties to a mediation.
Does The Mediator Decide The Outcome Of The Dispute?
The mediation process is one of self-determination. It is neither the role, nor the ambition of a mediator to encourage a certain outcome in a dispute. Instead, the mediator acts merely as a ‘third-party neutral’—one who acts with impartiality in order to facilitate reconciliation. It is never the role of a mediator to coerce, intimidate, or pressure a party to enter into an agreement.
In short, a mediator does not take sides, nor does he decide who is “right” and who is “wrong”.
Can The Mediator Give Legal Advice?
While a mediator may also be an attorney, he cannot render legal advice to the parties in a mediation. If legal guidance is needed, a party should secure separate representation prior to attending mediation.
Can I Force Someone To Attend Mediation?
There are only two ways a person can be forced to attend mediation: by judicial order, or by their own contractual agreement to do so. Absent either of those, you cannot force someone into mediation.
What’s The Difference Between Mediation & Arbitration?
Arbitration is the process of bringing a dispute before a disinterested third party for the purpose of having that third party decide the matter. That is the main difference between an Arbitrator and a Mediator – the role of deciding the outcome of the dispute. A mediator’s purpose is simply to suggest alternatives and options; an Arbitrator’ purpose is to hear testimony and rule on the case.
Arbitration is typically binding—meaning, once you’ve agreed to arbitration as the dispute resolution mechanism for a particular matter (or with a particular person or company), you are stuck with it. And, once you attend arbitration, you will be bound by the Arbitrator’s ‘award’ with a very limited right to an appeal.
Is Mediation Expensive?
No – especially in light of litigation or arbitration. Litigation can take years, and costs tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars. Arbitration still involves hiring an arbitrator who will charge an hourly rate, together with filing fees and administrative costs of the arbitration association. Because Arbitration is structured to be comparable to litigation, it typically involves several weeks (or months) of preparation, motion practice, hearings, discovery, and finally, a Final Hearing.
In contrast, mediation typically lasts for one to two days at most. The only fee involved is the mediator’s hourly rate, which will be split equally between the parties.
Mediation can save thousands of dollars in comparison to bringing (or continuing) litigation, and is therefore a highly cost-effective and savvy alternative to both litigation and arbitration.
Is Mediation Private?
Yes. Because it is not a judicial proceeding, the mediation conference will not be public, nor will it be recorded in any form or fashion. It is strictly confidential – meaning, you don’t have to worry about whether something you say could be used against you later at trial or in a deposition.