What is Mediation

Mediation is a non-binding process in which the parties to a dispute essentially work out their own solution with the help of a mediator, a neutral third party with special training in evaluating disputes and facilitating a solution that both sides can live with.

If the parties agree to mediation, they can choose a mediator with experience in the relevant legal areas and then work with the mediator to determine the most appropriate process. This process is highly flexible and can be tailored to the needs of the parties and the type of dispute at issue.

The mediator’s job is to effectively and skillfully guide the parties towards a mutually acceptable resolution by leading structured negotiation sessions. A mediator will help each side to understand both the strengths and weaknesses of their own and the other side’s position. In many cases, understanding where the opposing party is coming from helps both sides to identify the real interests and outcomes that are most important to them and, with the mediator’s help, achieve a “win-win” solution.

In difficult situations, skilled mediators can de-escalate conflict and employ a variety of proven techniques to keep negotiations moving. Mediators can also provide a neutral “reality check” to an over-confident opponent by assessing the merits of each side’s position based on their professional experience. Using a neutral third party to help with negotiations also allows the parties to craft flexible solutions that satisfy each party’s interests and allow them to preserve their business or personal relationships.

Once a solution is reached, the parties will sign off on the general terms of their settlement on the spot with any additional settlement document to be finalized later by their respective lawyers. The parties can agree that the terms of their resolution be kept strictly confidential.

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Peter Campbell, BDO Canada LLP