What is mediation? Mediation is a process which is either voluntary or court ordered, utilizing a “neutral person”, the mediator, who assists the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution to their dispute, a result often referred to as “self-determination”. Unlike an Arbitrator, the mediator does not have the authority to make a binding decision—only the parties can make the agreement binding. Under Florida law, all matters discussed in mediation are absolutely confidential.
Why use mediation if we couldn’t settle this matter through negations? A mediator brings a new perspective to the proceedings. Through the mediator’s own knowledge of the subject matter, he or she can assist parties in exploring alternatives that they might not have previously considered, and the process requires that the parties meet, look each other in the eye and permit the attorneys or participants to deal with each other in a more direct and comprehensive matter.
How long does mediation take? Depending on the complexity of the issue, mediation can take anywhere from a few hours (which occurs in most cases) while other require additional time, depending on the complexity of the issues.
What does mediation cost? Our fees depend on the complexity of the matter and number of participants. We are sensitive to those matters that involve parties with limited resources. All expenses are generally split equally between the parties, unless otherwise agreed.
Is the settlement enforceable? Yes. A signed settlement agreement is an enforceable contract.
Which types of cases are suitable for mediation? Almost every civil matter is suitable for mediation. Cases involving Domestic Violence, Criminal matters and other numerated matters are suitable or permissible for mediation.
May I use mediation if the case is pending in court? Yes. With some exceptions, in Florida all court cases must go to mediation prior to trial either by court order or voluntarily by the parties.
What is the role of the mediator? The mediator is not a party to the proceedings, nor will he or she communicate the discussions or results with any party or the court. The mediator facilitates dialogue between the parties to help them develop their own resolution to their issues and concerns. Agreements reached are by mutual consent of all parties. Mediators do not take sides, impose decisions, or give advice.
How does a case reach mediation? Cases reach mediation self referred by anyone who is involved in the dispute or by the counsel of any party or by Court order.
Who participates in mediation? The participants in mediation are the actual parties involved in the dispute. The number of participants range from two parties to as many as a dozen or more. The mediation is really a business meeting–It is not necessary to bring witnesses. If attorneys have been retained, they are encouraged to attend the mediation to advise their clients. Participants must have full authority to settle the case at the mediation.
What is the role of attorneys when present at mediation? Mediators work directly with the disputing parties who should be prepared to explain in their own words the nature of the dispute. Attorneys are encouraged to attend to advise their clients, clarify factual and legal issues, and help with crafting any agreements.
What evidence should be brought to the mediation? Mediation is not directed to provide discovery to the other side. But a successful mediation will be advance by each party bringing any documents, photographs, videos, etc., that would assist the parties in communicating their case to each other and the mediator.
What are the chances that my case will settle? National statistics indicate that as many as 85% of commercial matters and 95% of personal injury matters end in settlement agreements. With the congestion in the court system, the high cost of litigation and the opportunity cost of litigating (missing work, etc), mediation is a tool that is implemented earlier and earlier in the process.