You may have read or heard about a legal case that was resolved through either the Mediation process or the Arbitration process. Many of you may not understand the difference between these two types of proceedings. Often for the purpose of expediting the resolution of a case as well as reducing the ultimate cost of a jury trial lawyers will agree to submit their case to either an Mediator or an Arbitrator. In part one of this blog I will describe the Mediation process.
The Mediation process starts when the lawyers who represent the various parties to a law suit believe there is a reasonable likelihood that a case can be settled, however, they also believe it might be helpful to have an objective third party, a Mediator, involved in the settlement negotiation process. The parties then agree to the Mediator. A Mediator is usually a lawyer who conducts mediations as a major part of his legal practice. The process involves a meeting attended by all lawyers and usually by the parties themselves although there is no formal testimony presented. The Mediator listens to all sides of the dispute and attempts to move the parties toward a settlement of the claim. The Mediator does not make a final ruling or decision in the case but rather points out to the parties his thoughts regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the case and where the parties are in agreement or where they disagree. By this process it is hoped that the parties will gain the perspective of someone who has no interest in the claim itself and that the discussions will help move the parties toward a resolution, or at least help limit the issues in dispute. Mediations have become very popular in the last several years because of the speed of the process, their rate of success and the reasonable costs associated with the procedure.