Mediation is less formal than court proceedings, and it can be held in a variety of locations. Both parties and counsel are encouraged to be respectful of each other, keep confidences, suspend preconceived judgments, and focus on resolving the underlying conflict. The mediator will help you identify the real issues and develop solutions that meet your needs and satisfy your interests. Mediation may be chosen as the first step towards settlement, after negotiations conducted by you and the other party have failed, or at any stage during litigation or arbitration where the parties wish to interrupt those proceedings to explore the possibility of resolution through mediation.
The mediation process generally begins with a joint session to set an agenda, define the issues and ascertain the position and/or concerns of the parties. The mediator will then give an opening statement to introduce himself/herself and explain the role of the mediator. If the case has a complex subject matter or involves a dispute of an inherently emotional nature, it is often desirable to have a mediator who has substantial training and experience in these areas.
Following the joint session, the mediator will have private sessions with each party and/or their counsel to allow them to discuss the issues, enlarge upon their position and mediation goals in confidence, or to consider possible ways of reaching agreement. These private sessions are confidential, and whatever is said in caucus will not be used against any party in the course of other proceedings if mediation fails.