Tips for Preparing for Mediation
In most counties, some form of dispute resolution is required before your trial date. The most common form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is mediation. Although some mediations take place with all parties in the same room, most mediators prefer to have the parties separated in two separate rooms and the mediator will go from room to room to discuss your case.
It’s important to note that offers of settlement are not admissible as evidence in court. Therefore, information shared regarding settlement offers in mediation are confidential. This is not to say that facts learned during the course of mediation cannot be used at trial. Anything you say at mediation outside of settlement can be used against you.
Don’t be shy regarding asking the mediator to leave the room if you would like to discuss an issue privately with your attorney. Good mediators will understand and will allow you to consult with your attorney at any time.
Some clients find mediation more difficult than deposition because the mediator is judging your facts. It’s important to avoid becoming frustrated within the course of mediation even if the other side is behaving unreasonably. Even if you do not settle, critical information can be learned during the course of the mediation that may lead to settlement in the future or may be useful at trial.
Do not forget that the mediators job is to obtain settlement. It is up to you and your attorney (not the mediator) to determine if the settlement is fair.
If there is something you would like the mediator to know that you do not want the opposing party to know, most mediators will keep information confidential but you must ask them to do so. It is important that you specifically ask the mediator about his or her policy regarding confidentiality of issues. You want to avoid disclosing facts to the mediator without assurance that the fact will not be shared.