Non-binding mediation has become an increasingly popular and effective means of dispute resolution. It affords parties the chance to settle their disagreements with the help of an impartial, knowledgeable person who presides over the procedure. The mediator helps the parties understand their contrasting views of the case and provides an objective, unbiased opinion regarding the merits of each party’s arguments and what would constitute a fair settlement. Mediation proceedings are “off the record” and strictly confidential, so the parties’ privacy is assured.
What Happens in a Mediation Session?
During a mediation session, each side gets a chance to present his side of the case to the mediator. Frequently, this is accomplished through pre-session submissions of confidential position statements in which each party is required to set forth both the strengths and weaknesses of her position from her own perspective. Then, during the course of the live session, each party meets separately with the mediator, who offers the benefit of her objective assessment of that party’s position, both in comparison to what the mediator has heard from the adverse party and from the standpoint of the mediator’s own perspective and experience. At times during the session, the mediator will meet with both parties together to discuss where things stand and where they are going in the negotiating process.
Does Mediation Work?
Since mediation is a non-binding procedure, it may or may not result in a successful resolution of a controversy in the form of a settlement. However, some statistical research studies indicate that mediation has an overall success rate in excess of 80%. Given the high rate of success and the comparatively low cost of mediation (in comparison to litigation and even arbitration), it is usually worthwhile to attempt it. Cases that can and should be resolved often go unsettled because lawyers, who are advocates for their clients, can only do so much to bring those clients to the table and persuade them to view their cases in a realistic, rational and objective fashion. Mediation can, and often does, successfully close the gap between parties who might never settle their dispute without it.