While some people just want to have their day in court, for the vast majority court is not considered to be fun or appealing in any way. Mediation provides a way to resolve legal issues without requiring a court appearance. It can be substantially less time consuming than pursuing a court case and justice can be just as obtainable.
Two parties who cannot reach an agreeable resolution may choose to engage in the process of mediation. The process itself is a very simple one. The first step is for the two parties to choose a mediator which both can agree upon. It is often a former judge, but does not necessarily need to be. It just needs to be a party who is impartial and has an understanding of the law. Mediation is sort of like a mini-trial where both parties present their own evidence and testimonies which support their own positions. The mediator will first attempt to find common ground that the two parties can agree upon. Then they will consider the key issues so that they can determine where it is likely that a compromise can be reached.
Mediation is a non-binding legal procedure which is controlled by the parties involved. This is how mediation differs from arbitration. The ruling of an arbitrator and also a judge is binding but those involved in mediation do not have to accept an outcome that they do not like. They are not even required to see the process of mediation through to the end, they are free to withdraw from the process any time they want to. It is typical that the parties involved will continue to participate in the process until it has been completed.
When a case is seen in court or handled by an arbitrator, the outcome is based solely on the facts that are involved in the dispute and the laws that apply to the particular situation. However, the decisions reached in the process of mediation may also be based on the party’s best interest or on their business interests. This allows individuals to choose outcomes that are favorable to the future of the business. Mediation is also confidential which means that the information does not have to be disclosed to the public. Even if an individual makes an admission it cannot be disclosed to anyone even in the courtroom setting or in arbitration. Since the process of mediation is confidential and non-binding it does not involve as much risk for the parties involved. Even if a settlement is not reached through mediation, it helps the involved parties clearly define all the issues and facts involved in the dispute. This can be preparatory for court proceedings or arbitration should they be needed.
One of the advantages to pursuing mediation is that once a resolution is reached it is final. In the trial process, it can get tied up in the court of appeals for years and years. Mediation is confidential, this means that it does not become a matter of public record like a court case does. Issues settled in court become public record and are accessible to anyone who wants them.
Mediation can be beneficial in many different types of cases. Some of the most common reasons mediation is pursued include no fault divorce matters, domestic disputes and sometimes custody issues. Mediation is not available for criminal matters but occasionally some non-violent criminal cases may benefit from the process of mediation. Claims that are heard in a mediation setting do not necessarily have to concern a legal matter. For instance you would not sue your neighbor over the brightness of their outdoor lighting options but mediation might be useful to help find a resolution to the problem.
Mediation cases may be between family members, business partners, neighbors, landlords and tenants, or management and labor unions. In some regions mediation is mandatory if it involves certain issues such as disagreements with neighbors or child custody issues.