Why Choose Mediation
Mediation is a voluntary mechanism used to bring disputing parties together in a spirit of mutual cooperation in order to avoid the complexity and timeframes of the litigation and/or appeals process. Disputants agree on a Mediator, a neutral third party with vast experience and expertise in the subject matter at hand, to preside. Keep in mind that a judge’s responsibility is to interpret and rule on matters of law. The mediator’s responsibility is to assist the parties in settling their dispute and be fair and equitable to all parties. In a nutshell, meditation teaches conflict resolution skills, improves communications, and promotes a better understanding of individual interactions.
Consensus in dispute made through mediation boasts characteristics of a “win-win or gain-gain solution” by nature. In mediation, the disputing parties have the full control on whether or not the stipulated means of dispute resolution will result in mutual agreement. In the event both parties cannot achieve concurrence, the disputing parties would normally seek to resolve the matter through litigation in court, where the resolution or award will unavoidably be a “win-lose” scenario for the parties involved.
Thus, mediation’s primary purpose is to find a settlement and/or restorative outcome. In accomplishing this, mediation has several decisive benefits and advantages.
Parties elect to participate in mediation because of the potential for better settlement than those available through litigation or other procedures involving third-party decision makers. Creative brainstorming of new options is not something that people can be forced to do effectively. No one is coerced into using this alternative dispute procedure. If the parties do not reach an agreement in mediation, other grievance options are still available to the parties, including pursuing other appropriate legal options.
Private and Confidential
Mediation is a far less formal process than the traditional adversarial model of conflict resolution and provides for a safe, relaxed environment rather than a courtroom for the disputing parties to explore options and can modify their positions without fear of losing face in front of others. Mediation seeks to preserve the parties’ dignity and respect. Parties come together in a private and neutral location with an impartial mediator to talk about their conflict and negotiate a resolution that addresses the needs and interests of both parties.
Generally speaking, mediation parties are allowed to decide what goes into the paperwork. In litigated cases, there are often ugly allegations and personal information that ends up in the public record, whereas mediation allows parties to avoid that.
Timely, Convenient, and Cost Effective
Mediation can be scheduled and held in a matter of days, not weeks or months. The mediation process is not bound by traditional legal formalities. Litigated cases can take as little as six months and as long as several years. Mediations, on the other hand, occur on the parties’ timeline and can, therefore, be done far quicker, often in as little as a few months or less. This can be critical to intervening in the escalation of conflict and prevent unnecessary delays in finding mutually agreeable resolutions.
Traditional litigation is very costly and highly unpredictable. Additionally, litigation clients are often required to pay the other side's attorney fees as well. Mediation costs far less because the focus is on a constructive resolution, not "destroying" the other side. Parties spend their time actively working on resolving their case rather than filing motions, etc. Further, mediation costs are predictable because the parties are present for most (if not all) of the time the mediator spends on the case and there are no court filing fees or related expenses. It can also protect parties from some of the extra problems associated with civil litigation, such as punitive awards, if applicable.
Procedural Assistance of a Qualified, Neutral Third Party
In mediation, both parties have the opportunity to check the background and experience of the mediator unless the mediator is specified in the dispute resolution section of their contract. Both parties have the control to ensure their mediator is knowledgeable, experienced, and proven in the case subject matter and will be able to assist all parties involved in the reality of their opinions and positions. In civil litigation, you have no options in the choice of your judge and limited selection of the jury, if applicable.
The role of the mediator is specifically to help the parties find their own satisfactory, workable solutions by being an effective facilitator and providing structure, focus, and assistance with communication. The role of the mediator is to provide unbiased, impartial assistance from the position of someone with no other involvement or investment in the outcome of the dispute. Parties to a mediation process can at any stage of the process terminate the process and take their matter to court.
High Rate of Compliance and Satisfaction
Direct involvement of both parties, who have reached their own “customized” agreement for the settlement at hand, has a direct impact on the likelihood of ongoing future compliance with the terms of the agreement which the parties have themselves devised, as opposed to the agreement terms having been imposed upon them by outside sources. There is no final agreement unless both clients agree to it. Parties that negotiate their own settlements have more control over the outcome of their dispute and gains and losses are more predictable when they maintain the decision-making power than when decisions about the outcome of disputes are turned over to outside third parties.
Mediation involves mutually satisfactory agreements in which all parties have at least some of their interests met to the degree that they are willing to support the overall agreement. It allows parties to eliminate the possibility that a judge will order something that makes no sense to the parties involved.
Mediation participants report a high degree of satisfaction with both the process of mediation and the mediated agreements they reach. Even if a litigation client is satisfied with the outcome, they are typically dissatisfied with the cost, stress, uncertainty, and acrimony associated with litigation. Further, if one litigant is happy with the outcome, that usually means the other litigant is unhappy and may file an appeal.
Preserves Ongoing Relationships
Mediation agreements, which result in negotiated solutions that address each of the parties’ needs (win/win), are much better able to preserve present and future working relationships than win/lose procedures. Mediation helps participants focus on effectively communicating with one another as opposed to attacking one another. If a future working relationship is important, a negotiated settlement may be the best resolution possible whereby all-gain solutions are created. Mediation is often a helpful healing process and encourages direct communication between parties. The mutual resolution will also help give the parties a place to start for the future.