The mediation process is commenced upon the agreement of two or more parties to a dispute, or an order issued by a judge, to resolve their differences through a mediator, who is a neutral third party acting as a conduit and sounding board. In other words, the mediator may not take sides and is paid by all parties equally (unless there is a prior agreement), while conducting information from one party to another, as well as probing into the parties’ claims as a means to assess all possibilities as to how the matter may be resolved. This process is far simpler, faster, less costly, and less stressful than litigation, which would only be undertaken with a substantial monetary dispute. Mediation is a far better approach for disputes with a smaller sum involved, or a dispute where compensation other than financial is desired.
On mediation day, the parties gather in a room, and are permitted to break up into separate rooms at any time. The mediator will explain the process in that everything said and any information given during mediation is confidential as to any subsequent court appearance, and the mediator is not permitted to testify or disclose information as to anything he learned during the mediation. The mediator will explain that he will ask difficult questions, and at times it may seem as though he is taking sides, however, the parties must be aware that the mediator’s job is to push both sides toward a compromise, which means that neither party will get exactly what they desire, and all parties must accept this fact. The parties must understand that the mediator has no interest in any of the parties’ settlement of the dispute, and impartiality is the cornerstone of an ethical mediator.
Finally, the mediator will explain that the parties must respect one another’s time to express their points, without interruption. If an agreement is reached then a contract will be drawn up describing the resolution in detail, and if litigation is in progress, the court will enter the agreement into court record, making a violation of the agreement punishible by contempt. The parties must remember that a mediation is a private process, it does not involve the government, unless there is a violation and a judge sanctions a party. The parties then will be permitted to make their initial statements, produce any documents to the other parties, and at that point the actual process of attempting to reach a resolution will commence.
You should always seek out an experienced mediator to handle the resolution process because if a resolution is not reached money and time will have been wasted. Mediators have different approaches; some are meek and do not push a resolution at all, allowing the parties to resolve the dispute. Other mediators will suggest potential resolutions to both sides and attempt to expose weaknesses in the parties’ claims so that it becomes clear that the prospect of litigation would be highly undesirable. The Law Office of Bruce Belenky generally takes the second approach; while maintaining strict neutrality, Mr. Belenky clarifies and crystalizes the facts as they apply to the law that may be applied in any potential litigation so that the parties know where they stand. Mr. Belenky may bring up creative resolutions that could be agreeable to all parties, while always allowing the parties the final say as to whether they will accept any of them. Mr. Belenky has been a highly successful mediator, with a high degree of full agreements being reached in a wide range of business and personal disputes.