Mediation: 12 Things You Need to Know
The informal method to resolve any disputes is referred as mediation. Mediation consists of a third party, who is called as the mediator. The mediator takes care of sorting out any issues between the parties without having to go court. People generally seek a mediator for family disputes, business disputes, contract disputes, and neighbour disputes.
What you need to know about Mediation
1. Mediation is entirely voluntary. This means that if you agree to participate in mediation, you can do so on your own terms. It also means you can withdraw at any time.
2. Experience confirms that mediation is generally, a lot cheaper than going through the formal legal process.
3. Thousands of dollars can be saved using mediation rather than court, by avoiding unnecessary legal costs. Whereas a trial lasting say 3-4 days could ultimately, cost between $30,000 and $60,000 or even more, for each party (being a total of $60,000 to $120,000 (plus GST) per couple), a mediation might only cost in the range of $5000-$10,000 (plus GST) in total (i.e. $2500 – $5000 (plus GST) for each person). The savings can be huge.
4. Everything said at mediation is strictly confidential and cannot be used against you in any court proceedings later on.
5. Arrangements can be made for the mediation to take place in whatever way you prefer. For example, arrangements can be made that the parties never come face-to-face, or that they each have separate rooms where each party can retreat if the situation gets difficult. It can be conducted in a 5 Star hotel if you want. The top priority in any mediation is safety and security. Unless you are entirely satisfied with the arrangements, you are not required to proceed.
6. The process begins before the actual day of the mediation. Each side gets to fill out a questionnaire and sets out matters they would like taken into account. Each side prepares their own “Position Paper”.
7. Although there is no set procedure, usually, the mediation involves 3 rooms – one for each party and a central meeting room – similar to a board room. The parties meet with their lawyers, friends, associates in ‘their” ante room and then joint meetings (only if agreed) occur in the board room around the table and the meeting is conducted by the mediator.
8. Each side gets to say whatever they would like. This is an opportunity for you to say all of the things that you would like to say but might not be allowed to say if the matter was in a court room. There are no rules of evidence, no restrictions on what can be said except that there cannot be any violence, threats or intimidatory behaviour. The process is strictly controlled to ensure safety at all times.
9. Each party is allowed to have a lawyer present if they would like. Sometimes the lawyers sit outside the meeting room. Alternatively, lawyers can be on standby so that the parties can telephone them from the mediation if they would like advice at any time.
10. If an agreement is reached, it can be recorded in a formal agreement and then registered in the Court so as to be binding on all parties.
11. If no agreement can be reached, the mediation can be adjourned to resume again at a later time in the hope that agreement can finally be reached.
12. Apart from the significant reduction in costs, one of the other great benefits of a mediation is that the parties themselves control the outcome. In a court room process, the parties have no control over the outcome as the final decision is made by a Judge. In a mediation, if you do not like the result, you do not have to agree. You can simply walk away. Conversely, you might come up with a proposal to settle the matter which includes other issue is quite separate and apart from legal issues that can be incorporated into any agreement. It might be that there is some negotiating in which one party offers the other party something in consideration of them agreeing to a certain proposal. In short, anything is possible. Cores do not have this flexibility as they are governed by strict rules and procedures and are not permitted to stray outside the legal framework.
For more about mediation, contact Armour Allen Lawyers. We also offer a first interview free at no cost and no obligation.