Mediation is a better conflict-resolution process brought before an independent, neutral third-party, the mediator. Mediation cases give the parties the full opportunity to discuss their issues, clear up misunderstandings, and find areas of agreement in a way that would never be possible in a lawsuit. Mediation is often voluntary, and typically the mediator has no authority to make a binding decision unless both parties agree to give the mediator that power. Consequently, mediation cases have many significant advantages over traditional lawsuits, including the following:
Quicker: Mediation typically only takes days or weeks (or in very complex cases possibly months), whereas lawsuits typically take months or years. When parties want to get on with their lives, mediation allows a more reasonable timetable for resolving a dispute.
Less Expensive: Mediation is vastly less expensive than a typical lawsuit. Employing a mediator costs significantly less than employing a lawyer, and combined with the much quicker turnaround, you’ll be paying less money over a shorter period of time. In addition, for certain types of disputes, many non-profits offer mediation services for free or at a nominal rate.
Less Formal: The informality of mediation allows the parties to be more engaged than they would be in a court-driven process with an abundance of rules and procedures designed to separate the parties. Accordingly, since the mediator deals directly with the parties, the mediator can focus the attention of the parties upon their needs and interests rather than on their stated positions.
Confidential: Unlike court cases, which are public, mediation is typically confidential, which means there are no records or transcripts and any evidence introduced during mediation cannot be used later or revealed. This reason alone can be a great reason to use mediation rather than file a lawsuit.
Preserves Relationships: One of the most overlooked benefits of mediation is that it can help preserve relationships, business and personal, that would likely be destroyed through years of litigation. Because it is a collaborative, rather than adversarial process, and because mediation isn’t inherently a win/lose process, important relationships can often be saved.
Greater Flexibility and Control: In mediation, unlike in a lawsuit, the parties are in control. This means that the parties have a much greater say in negotiations and greater control over the outcome.
Better Results: For all the reasons above, parties generally report a better outcome as a result of mediation than they do from a lawsuit. Also, because there is no winner or loser, no admission of fault or guilt, and the settlement is mutually agreed upon, parties are typically more satisfied with mediation.
Greater Compliance: Finally, because mediation produces better results more quickly and cheaper, compliance with mediated dispute resolutions is generally higher than with lawsuits. Successful mediation can lay the groundwork for collaborative, non-confrontational problem solving and preserve relationships that are important to you.