What is mediation?
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process used to settle disputes between two or more people. The mediator meets with the parties together and helps the parties to negotiate a settlement to the dispute by exploring interests and looking at various options for resolution. The process is both private and confidential.
Mediation provides people the opportunity to design their own resolution to their dispute, giving the people involved more control over the outcome of mediation. I also believe that, if provided with support, people can be much more creative in designing a resolution to their dispute than they might otherwise. Court can be costly, time consuming and often confrontational. Mediation is typically less expensive, provides an opportunity for relationship building or preserving relationships and can be finalized in a time-effective and time-efficient manner.
What does a mediator do?
Mediators are trained in collaborative problem solving. Mediator’s help people to have the ‘tough’ conversations; the type of conversations that are difficult to have without support. The mediator’s role is to support people to discuss the issues, to facilitate discussion on possible solutions and to support people in selecting a resolution that is mutually satisfactory. Mediators are impartial; mediators do not take sides, focus blame or make any decisions regarding how the issues are to be resolved.
Do I need a lawyer?
Lawyers participate in many ways: attending mediation with their clients, providing information and advice by phone throughout the process and advising on the final agreement made in mediation. It is up to you and your lawyer to decide how or if your lawyer participates. I always advise people to protect their rights and seek independent legal advice on any agreement made in mediation prior to executing the agreement.
May I have someone come with me?
Many people opt to have a support worker, counsellor or support person attend mediation with them. Support people are welcome provided they are acceptable to the other person(s) in the dispute and are willing to support the mediation process and abide by the confidentiality provisions.
Is mediation confidential?
All conversations in mediation are confidential; all discussions are on a ‘without prejudice basis’. In other words, what happens in mediation, stays in mediation! This environment of confidentiality allows people attending mediation to have an open and honest dialogue concerning the issues and explore options for resolution. I ask people attending mediation not to take notes or make any recording of what transpires at mediation. As the mediator it is my job to prepare any notes you may need.
Are there situations where mediation is not advised?
Mediation is not advised in situations of current or recent domestic violence. That said, for some people in this situation, mediation still remains preferable to the court system. The decision whether or not to proceed with mediation will be made in consultation with the people involved and their legal counsel. Paramount in these situations is the safety of all involved and creating an environment where the issues can be resolved fairly without coercion or increasing fear of personal safety.
How can I prepare?
I meet with each person involved in the mediation prior to the mediation date to explain the process and to develop a full understanding of each person’s perspective on the issues. This is frequently referred to as a ‘pre-meeting’. Any specific preparation for the mediation will be discussed in a telephone call prior to the pre-meeting or during the pre-meeting itself. As well, clients are urged to use the resources provided on this website to help them prepare for mediation.
What do I need to bring?
You may be asked to bring documentation depending on the issues being mediated. Most importantly I ask people to bring an open mind, a willingness to discuss the issues and listen to the perspective of the other person and a willingness to do your best to try and negotiate a settlement.