Mediation is a conflict resolution process in which two or more parties involved in a dispute meet with a neutral third-party mediator to discuss the issues and attempt to reach a voluntary agreement. The process is nonadversarial and informal but structured.
Any dispute in the civil arena has issues that can be mediated. Typical mediations deal with issues about business, real estate, the workplace, neighborhoods, landlords, homeowner associations, families, personal injury or public policy. There may or may not be legal action pending in the case.
The mediator facilitates dialogue between the parties to help them develop their own resolution to their issues and concerns. Agreements are reached by mutual consent of all parties. Mediators do not take sides, impose decisions or give legal advice.
Cases reach mediation in a variety of ways. Cases may be self-referred by anyone who is involved in the dispute or by the counsel of any party. Cases also are referred by courts, law enforcement, elected officials and public agencies.
The cost of mediation depends upon the type of case and how it is referred to the National Conflict Resolution Center. Parties usually split the fees unless other arrangements have been made. VISA and MasterCard are accepted.
The participants in mediation are the actual parties involved in the dispute. There may be only two parties, or there may be a large group of 20 or more. It is not necessary to bring witnesses. If attorneys have been retained, they are encouraged to attend the mediation to advise their clients.
Participants should have full authority to settle the case at the mediation session.
NCRC must be advised, before the mediation, of all parties who will attend.
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 legal issues and help with crafting any agreements.
Parties should bring any documents or materials that would be helpful in communicating issues and concerns to each other and to the mediator. Mediation is not a formal legal proceeding, so there is no need to establish official evidence for the record.
Yes. Everyone present at the mediation signs a confidentiality statement before the mediation begins, acknowledging that the mediation is governed by California Evidence Code sections 1115-1128. This statute provides that statements made during a mediation are confidential and inadmissible against another party in any subsequent noncriminal proceeding. Also, mediators are not available to testify as to what was said during mediation.
The parties can include a written statement that the agreement is binding and/or admissible in any subsequent civil proceeding. The National Conflict Resolution Center has no enforcement powers and does not participate in overseeing the performance of any agreement.
Mediations can be scheduled in as little as one week following the initial contact with the National Conflict Resolution Center, depending upon the availability of parties and mediators. A mediation session can last anywhere from two hours to a full day, depending on the case. All participants attend the full session, although there are typically several breaks and opportunities for private meetings with the mediator and/or with counsel. Most mediations are resolved in one meeting, but subsequent sessions can be scheduled by mutual agreement at the close of each session.
Contact the National Conflict Resolution Center. A case coordinator will assist you in the scheduling of your mediation.