Aug 27th, 2018
How Private Mediation Works
The role of a 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.
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.
As a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator, our attorneys have received special training in mediation techniques, concepts, and strategies. Private mediation offers the benefits of being Confidential, Cost-Effective, and Fast. Litigation can drag on for years; private mediation typically lasts no more than 1-2 days. Litigation can cost tens of thousands of dollars; mediation is conducted at an affordable hourly rate with both parties splitting the cost equally.
If a resolution is reached, we will draft up a joint stipulation as to the specifics of the parties’ agreement. This document becomes a legally enforceable contract which the parties can later sue to enforce, should it be breached.
What Private Mediation Is NOT
Mediation is not arbitration. A mediator does not take sides or determine who is “right”. When parties come to us for mediation, they are charged only for the mediator’s time, not for a certain result. We do not guarantee resolution of an issue, as that is not the purpose of mediation. We do, however, offer creative ways to get past obstacles which have prevented resolution previously.
As mediators, we cannot render legal advice to the parties. However, an attorney may discuss with the parties certain strengths and weaknesses of their positions while in caucus (a private meeting held during mediation with just one of the parties at a time).
Mediation cannot be forced on a party. While it is true that mandatory pre-suit mediation clauses are enforceable in Florida contracts, a party cannot be made to attend private mediation* without their consent. In other words, while you can contractually prevent one party from suing another party before trying mediation, you cannot force that party to actually mediate; they must voluntarily agree to it.
Last but not least, the conversations, documents, and other information disclosed in private mediation does not become public record. The outcome of mediation will be made public if litigation is already underway; however, if litigation has not commenced, even the outcome of mediation can remain confidential.
If you are currently in litigation, anticipate becoming involved in litigation, or simply would like to resolve a dispute in a fast, affordable, and private manner, please call our firm to find out if mediation is right for you.
*Note: Court-ordered mediation is mandatory; however, even a judge cannot order that a party stay in mediation for a certain period of time, or that a certain resolution be reached.