When you’re involved in a dispute that just cannot seem to involve any common ground, life can get stressful quickly. You might be wondering how you and the other party involved are going to come to some sort of conclusion. You might be getting nervous about the idea of pursuing a solution through the legal system. You might have no idea what the other person is up to or how they’re planning on getting what they want. Feelings involving lack of security can arise as you really don’t have a solid sense of how the situation is going to turn out.
The following will explore some of the options available to you if you find yourself involved in a dispute that is proving difficult to resolve. The focus will be on the role of mediation in law, but other options will also be discussed. If it feels safe to speak to the other party, you might want to go over these options with them and see if one type of solution seems right for you and your situation. If you do not feel safe when interacting with the other party, always wait until you can set things up in an environment, with other people present if needed.
What Is Mediation?
Broadly speaking, mediation is a legal procedure where people involved in a dispute discuss the issue with the assistance of someone who is trained in helping people find a settlement. This can be an informal meeting or a scheduled conference in a neutral location.
Cases that most suit mediation are those involving commercial transactions, domestic relations, employment matters, or other disputes that don’t require complex procedures and evidence. In most cases, attending mediation is something that people volunteer to do when they want to avoid court, but it can sometimes be governed by statute or contract clauses.
What Is A Mediator?
A mediator is someone who has experience with these sorts of disputes and has the character traits of patience, diplomacy, and common sense. Often mediators are excellent listeners and helpful by rearticulating and restating people’s concerns and needs in a way someone else can understand them. The mediator has no control over the resolution but is meant to serve as a neutral third party helping everyone else come to a resolution of their own design.
What Are The Benefits Of Mediation?
Mediation is often sought out when people wish to avoid traditional litigation. People might want this for efficiency’s sake (some legal proceedings take quite a while to complete), financial reasons (hiring lawyers for the length of time a case takes can be expensive), and privacy (not everyone is comfortable discussing their disputes in front of a group of strangers). Quite often, mediation can help maintain friendly and respectful relations between the two parties involved in the dispute.
Is Mediation Confidential?
Yes. The mediation process involves no spectators, and the mediator is not legally allowed to repeat anything that they heard during the process. This means that the dispute is often easier to keep quiet and private.
What Are My Other Options?
There are three standard types of dispute resolution from a legal standpoint. Mediation is the first option, whereas litigation and arbitration are the second and third options. Litigation is likely what people think of when they picture legal proceedings. It involves a defendant and a plaintiff each stating their case before a judge or the combination of a judge and jury. The judge and/or jury are responsible for listening attentively and comparing all the evidence to the law to help make a decision.
What Is Arbitration?
Arbitration often requires less time than a jury trial but can still require a considerable length of time to reach completion. There is also simplified arbitration which is an option for cases that have damages (excluding expenses and interest) of less than $50,000. This process skips over the hearing portion of the legal procedure and allows a single arbitrator to determine the outcome based on how people plead, what information is discovered, and what evidence is submitted. The average length of time for a simplified arbitration is around eight months from when the case is filed. Standard arbitrations can take somewhere between 15 and 18 months to reach a decision.
The above information should have made the process of mediation clear. It’s important to remember that the big difference is that, in mediation, you and the other party are making the final decision; in arbitration and litigation, someone else is making the final decision.