The Advantages of Mediation Over Traditional Lawsuits
Mediation is an informal conflict-resolution process before an independent, neutral third party. The neutral third party is known as a mediator. The mediation process allows parties to discuss their issues, clear up misunderstandings, and find areas of agreement in a way that's impossible with a traditional lawsuit.
Courts may order parties to appear for mediation. Parties may also voluntarily seek mediation. In any case, courts cannot force parties to reach a mediated settlement. The mediator does not have the authority to make a binding decision.
This article discusses the advantages of mediation. Consider these advantages to help you decide whether proceeding with litigation in the court system is necessary. Mediation as a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) might give you the outcome you're seeking.
Mediation as a Faster and More Cost-Effective Method for Resolving Disputes
In mediation, the parties or the court select a neutral third-party mediator who acts as a facilitator of the parties' mediation conference. The mediator will review the case and may often talk with the parties one-on-one before the mediation to get a good understanding of the issues. Mediation conferences can be set much faster than hearing and trial dates in most circumstances.
At the mediation, the mediator sets the ground rules for communication and serves as a referee of sorts. Through a structured conversation, the mediator seeks to let each side hear the other and then work on resolutions that each side can accept.
Mediation typically only takes days or weeks to complete. Lawsuits, on the other hand, are usually more time-consuming, taking months or years. When parties want to get on with their lives, mediation allows a more reasonable timetable for resolving a dispute.
Generally speaking, the cost of mediation is less than a typical lawsuit. Employing a mediator will often cost less than both sides hiring lawyers. Combined with the much faster turnaround, you'll pay less over a shorter period. For certain disputes, many courts and non-profits offer mediation services for free or at a nominal rate.
Mediation Is Confidential and Less Formal Than Litigation
The informality of mediation allows the parties to be more engaged than in a court-driven process. Traditional litigation has many rules of evidence and procedures designed to keep the parties separate or talking only through counsel. Since a mediator deals directly with the parties, the mediator can focus the parties' attention on their needs and interests rather than on the formal positions in legal filings.
Unlike court cases, which are public, mediation is typically confidential. That means there are no records or transcripts. Any statement or notes made during a mediation session can't be used or revealed later in litigation. This factor alone is a great reason to use mediation rather than filing a lawsuit.
Mediation Preserves Relationships and Offers Greater Flexibility
One of the most overlooked benefits of mediation as a dispute resolution process is that it can help preserve relationships that would likely be destroyed through years of litigation. Because mediation is a collaborative rather than adversarial process that doesn't have a win/lose outcome, important relationships can often be saved. This is why mediation is often utilized in family law cases. Resolution of issues like child custody is common in divorce mediation.
In mediation, unlike in a lawsuit, the parties have greater control. This means the parties have a greater say in negotiations. They must approve any final agreement. This level of control lets them come up with creative solutions to their problems.
Mediation Can Lead to Better Outcomes and Greater Compliance
If parties reach agreement in mediation, the mediator will usually assist the parties with reducing the agreement to writing. If the parties have attorneys, then the attorneys will review the terms of a proposed agreement and may draft the final agreement or proposed court entry for the parties' signatures.
Parties generally report a better outcome as a result of mediation than they do from a lawsuit. At a trial or court hearing, the judge or jury issues findings for or against a party. If the trial was in front of a judge or magistrate, the written decision or order may not be issued for several weeks or months. A court can adopt a mediated settlement much sooner.
Parties are typically more satisfied with mediation because:
- There is no winner or loser
- There is no admission of fault or guilt
- Any settlement is mutually agreed upon
Compliance with mediated disputes is generally higher than with lawsuits as well. This is because mediation produces better results more quickly and cheaply. Successful mediation can lay the groundwork for collaborative, non-confrontational problem-solving. It can also serve to preserve meaningful relationships.
You Don't Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer's Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand how to navigate the legal system and how to protect your rights. A lawyer can help you determine if mediation or arbitration would be an appropriate way of resolving your legal issue. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can aid in facilitating the resolution of your legal dispute.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.