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Why Use Mediation?

Mediation is a well-established, informal and confidential process in which two or more people with a dispute work together to find an acceptable solution with the help of a neutral third person or "mediator." The goal of mediation is not to identify who is right or wrong. Instead mediation focuses on finding a solution that both parties can live with. Because mediation is more flexible than a legal process, participants can have a broader discussion and a develop a wider range of solutions.

 

Although mediation is, by definition, non-binding, typically mediated agreements are lived up to by the parties involved, since they participated in creating the solution. The written agreement resulting from mediation can provide for steps one party can take if the other does not honor the agreement, including going to court to get enforcement of the agreement.

 

Even if parties cannot reach agreement on any or all issues in the dispute, they can benefit from mediation by:

 

  • sharing information and perspectives,
  • discussing options, and
  • identifying related issues that may bear on the dispute.

 

When Mediation is most suitable

 

  • The law cannot provide the remedy you want: Many common disputes do not fit easily or completely into a category that the law easily addresses.
  • You need or want to maintain a relationship (with a neighbor, customer, relative, etc.), and need to solve a problem.
  • You do not want the disagreement or the resolution made public.
  • You want to control the cost of resolving the problem.
  • You have trouble working on your own with the other party.
  • You want the problem solved as soon as possible.

 

Advantages of mediation

 

  • Productive and controllable: Mediation involves the parties, not just their representatives, and focuses the parties on positive solutions. Participants who reach their own resolution are more likely to follow through with an agreement than one which is imposed.
  • Efficient: Mediation can be scheduled and completed faster than litigation and is less disruptive, stressful and time-consuming.
  • Respected: Participants in mediation maintain self-respect and are perceived to be open-minded, constructive and flexible.
  • Helpful in preserving relationships: Mediation is particularly beneficial where the parties will have a continuing personal or professional relationship.
  • Cost-effective: Mediation is typically less expensive than arbitration, litigation and other traditional approaches to problem-solving. Mediated settlements are paid faster and more frequently.
  • More flexible: The parties are free to find a custom solution and don't have to follow imposed protocols.
  • Confidential: Mediation, is, in most cases, a confidential dispute resolution process that leaves no public record.

 

Mediation is often confused with Arbitration; they are NOT the same

 

This chart, based on one offered by the Utah court dispute resolution program, explains the difference between mediation and arbitration (a process in which an arbitrator(s) decides a case with formal but relaxed legal standards) and compares both with litigation:

 

Issue Lawsuits Arbitration Mediation
Control over outcome remains with the parties No No Yes
Voluntary process No Yes Yes
Adversarial process Yes Yes No
Prompt outcome No Yes Yes
Cost of process High Moderate Low
Private, confidential No Yes Yes
Restricted/formal process Yes Yes No
Usual outcome Win/lose or lose-lose Win/lose or lose-lose OK/OK or no agreement
Binding outcome Yes By agreement By agreement
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