Although legal proceedings are a matter of public record, mediation is completely private and confidential. In fact, mediators are bound by a strict code of confidentiality and are prohibited from disclosing anything that occurs during the course of a mediation. All participants are also asked to sign confidentially agreements to ensure that each party’s interests are protected throughout the process.
Unlike litigation, mediations can be scheduled fairly quickly, depending upon the mediator’s schedule and the availability and readiness of the parties.
Mediation has been recognized as a less costly method of resolving disputes than litigation and arbitration, especially if the parties agree to submit their dispute to mediation before initiating legal proceedings, which can cost many thousands of dollars and carry the risk of an unknown result. In non-litigated disputes, conflict can cost lost revenue and productivity. A mediator can help resolve internal issues, getting organizations back on track and saving thousands of dollars.
Mediation has a 90% success rate, whether it takes one session or several. For the 10% of mediations that fail to result in resolution, the parties usually walk away from the proceedings with a better understanding of their case, their obstacles to winning and what they will need to prove in court to win. Agreements that result from mediation have a 90% compliance rate. All of this saves time and money, resulting a healthy return on your investment.
Mediation is the only dispute resolution process where parties retain complete decision-making power over the outcome of their dispute. Not so in the arbitration or litigation decision-making processes, where parties have no right of self-determination, and where total strangers, who may know nothing about the parties, their industry or their underlying interests, will render a decision in which one party will win, and one will lose, in a very high-stakes gamble. In mediation, the parties are the final decision-makers and can choose how much and when to communicate, compromise or settle.
A judge, jury or arbitrator can only award damages as part of a lawsuit, but sometimes a party’s issues can go beyond damages. Perhaps what they really need is an apology or a letter of recommendation. Perhaps their issues have nothing to do with money and everything to do with ego and respect. The court and arbitration system can only award money damages. Only a mediator can explore the interests below the surface to try to find solutions that truly address the issues.
There are all types of problems that can’t be solved by the courts. Companies may choose to mediate specific problems within their staffs for better productivity, communication and interpersonal relationships. A mediator can explore the underlying cause of conflict and find solutions that work for everyone, which saves money and repairs relationships in the process.
Litigation destroys relationships because of its acrimonious nature. Mediation is collaborative. The very nature of mediation is to communicate and work together to find solutions. Mediation works to preserve and repair relationships.
A large part of mediation revolves around negotiation, and the mediator helps each party better understand the other’s position. This may lead to a more creative and thus more lucrative deal than originally anticipated.
Most importantly, the parties who participate in mediations generally tend to find closure. Whether through an apology or a handshake at the end of settlement, parties go home feeling as if their ordeal is over and their thoughts, concerns and anger have been heard and addressed.