Mediation a form of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, that is often employed to avoid bring a legal dispute into the courts. Mediation revolves around a third party being brought in to structure meetings and help both parties involve reach a decision based on the facts provided during the hearing. Mediation is often confused or concurrently referred in the same vein as arbitration.
Even though both are awfully similar, they are not one in the same. The most important distinction between mediation and arbitration is that a mediator’s main purpose is to provide for a solution that will result in a compromise between two parties. Secondly, a mediator acts as a third party that is actually removed from the settlement process, often allowing both parties to negotiate the settlement themselves. A mediator typically only assesses the damages that may be incurred by a particular agreement or decision by the parties, and give indication of any liability that may be present.
Mediation also in not considered to be legally binding. That is, a party is not accountable to adhere to the decisions or settlement established through mediation by law. However, this will also vary depending on the nature of the ADR in terms of agreements reached by the involved parties before entering the proceedings. Mediation is typically employed as the choice of ADR when disputes involve:
Community and Family matters
Both parties involved in a mediation procedure are to consider the mediator or third party to be completely impartial. The mediator essentially exists to provide for a more direct and controlled manner in which both parties can communicate between each other, while providing for the facts of their own case. The ultimate goal of a mediator is simply to help both parties reach an agreement that will satisfy them both, while concurrently helping them keep the dispute from reaching litigation procedures in court.
Because mediation does not require the involvement of attorneys or the court system, it will often be the first avenue considered in settling a dispute between two parties. A mediator helps facilitate the introduction of a settlement or compromise that both parties themselves actually create. If no such resolution can be reached, further action, such as bringing the matter to court, may be necessary. Advantages of using mediation over other types of ADR may be:
The mediation process is implemented to resolve a dispute in a timely fashion. Depending on the nature of a dispute, if introduced in the courts, reaching a judge’s decision can often take months or even years. A mediation can often resolve a disagreement in a matter of hours.
Mediation costs are tremendously less than those incurred by a court trial. Even though the mediator or third party may charge a fee similar to that of an attorney’s, the mediation process does not last nearly as long as court procedures. In resolving a dispute in less time will translate in having to spend less money to cover hourly attorney costs, and other expenditures as a result of a court-rendered judgment.
The parties involved in a mediation procedure are responsible for essentially rendering a decision of judgment for the dispute. Because the mediator simply acts as a facilitator, the parties themselves can reach a compromise that will prove beneficial to both parties to some extent. Unlike a court decision, which the judgment will most likely only favor one party, the agreements reached in mediation will tend to be mutually agreeable. Furthermore, even though the agreements in mediation procedures are not legally binding, they can always be brought to a court of law.