What is Mediation?
Mediation is a private, confidential & voluntary process where parties, caught up in a conflict, agree to work with a neutral party, the mediator, to create their own solutions in settling their conflict.
Mediation is based on the principle that people are capable of resolving their own conflicts if given the right support. Preferably, mediation is non-adversarial and the parties agree that all information will be confidentially shared in a safe, dignified and neutral space. It is a voluntary and confidential process. Either party can withdraw or choose not to participate at any time. The mediator does not judge who is right or who is wrong, but works with parties to help them arrive at a solution to satisfy their interests. No electronic recordings are made and no court reporter is present. The mediator will not reveal anything discussed during the mediation to anyone other than the participants. The mediator does not represent either party.
Aside from relatively low cost and high success rate, mediation provides five important aspects.
Mediation is confidential as it relates to all participants, including attorneys and the mediator. Everything discussed in the mediation is confidential. Any documents that are exchanged in the mediation are confidential. Any legal or other arguments advanced in the mediation are confidential. Mediation is not a matter of public record.
No judge decides the parties' outcome. There is no legal precedent or jury to decide right and wrong. The parties have the opportunity to "tell your side of the story", without lawyers objecting that what you're saying is inadmissible for some reason. The parties have the experience of creating their own resolution in their own words to resolve their disagreement.
Most relationships are important to maintain intact. Business partnerships, family, friendships and social relationships of long standing are often soothed and become closer as a result of mediation.
The mediation process encourages the parties to assume personal responsibility for their respective roles in the disagreement. It's not blaming the other side but rather accepting ownership for the things contributed or done to create the disagreement.
Resolution for most conflicts is usually achievable within a day or two. More complex disputes and conflicts may require more time and communication to explore the interests and positions involved.
Mediation Agreement (PDF, 48k)
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is the private, judicial determination of a dispute by an independent third-party (an arbitrator / neutral). An arbitration hearing may involve the use of an individual arbitrator or a tribunal (panel). A panel may consist of any number of arbitrators. One and three are the most common number of arbitrators. The disputing parties agree to hand over their power to decide the dispute to the arbitrator(s). Arbitration is an alternative to court action (litigation), and by agreement is generally just as final and binding.
Arbitration is an effective, efficient and economic process involving an arbitrator selected by the parties, who accepts documents, takes sworn testimony and renders a binding, written decision.
Arbitration Agreement (PDF, 64k)