Alternative Dispute Resolution -> Mediation

In the realm of lawsuits, negotiation, and the courtroom, you may hear the acronym “ADR” thrown around. “ADR” means Alternative Dispute Resolution. The “Alternative” refers to some method other than going to court or traditional negotiation. While attorneys generally know the definition, let me clarify what these terms really mean to participants in a case over the next few posts.

This is my favorite type of ADR and what I am most commonly hired to do. The mediator is a neutral party. The mediator does not have to be an attorney. In North Carolina Superior Court cases, the mediator must be Certified (as I am) by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission in order to conduct mediations. As of this writing, family financial (i.e. divorce) mediators do not have to be Certified.

Certified mediators are required to follow the North Carolina statutes, found here. There are various protections for participants in a mediation, including:

-          The mediation is not a trial. The mediator does not make a ruling in the case. The only way a resolution can occur is if the parties all agree
-          The mediator can meet privately with each party and their attorney.
-          You can kick the mediator out of the room to speak with your attorney at any time.
-          A legal term:

    •  “Evidence of statements made and conduct occurring in a mediated settlement conference or other settlement proceeding conducted under this section, whether attributable to a party, the mediator, other neutral, or a neutral observer present at the settlement proceeding, shall not be subject to discovery and shall be inadmissible in any proceeding in the action or other civil actions on the same claim, except: (1) In proceedings for sanctions under this section; (2) In proceedings to enforce or rescind a settlement of the action; (3) In disciplinary proceedings before the State Bar or the Dispute Resolution Commission; or (4) In proceedings to enforce laws concerning juvenile or elder abuse.

 Mediation is a fantastic way to resolve your dispute in a relatively quick manner compared to other forms of resolution.  There are many advantages. The major disadvantage is that both parties need to make compromises in order to resolve the case. A good mediator given free reign to speak openly with both sides can bring closure to the majority of cases.

 Next up: Arbitration