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:
When Mediation is most suitable
Advantages of mediation
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:
|Control over outcome remains with the parties||No||No||Yes|
|Cost of process||High||Moderate||Low|
|Usual outcome||Win/lose or lose-lose||Win/lose or lose-lose||OK/OK or no agreement|
|Binding outcome||Yes||By agreement||By agreement|