Mediation is a confidential decision-making process that can be used as an alternative to litigation or arbitration.  In litigation and arbitration, someone (the judge or arbitrator) makes the decision for the parties.  In mediation, a guide (the mediator) assists the parties in making decisions that work best for everyone involved.  Unlike in the courts, mediation allows parties to discuss their issues, clear up misunderstandings, identify separate and mutual interests, and ultimately find areas of agreement. Mediation can be voluntary – you and the other party decide to mediate instead of proceeding in court – but it can also be court ordered.  For example, courts in divorce proceedings often mandate mediation.

Mediation is generally less expensive and resolves disputes faster than going to court.  Mediation is also generally less stressful and less adversarial than court or arbitration.  Being able to resolve your disputes sooner with less money allows you to return to focusing on those things you would rather focus on rather than spending enormous amounts of resources fighting things out in court.  Mediation can also use greater creativity in reaching an agreement, unlike the courts which are restricted by the law.

Mediation can be used in a large variety of dispute so long as all parties are willing to work towards reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement.  Frequently, mediation results in an agreement that is more satisfactory to all of the parties as opposed to going to court, which can often be a lose-lose situation even when there is a clear “winner”.

Notwithstanding, mediation results in a non-binding resolution – the parties are not bound to the agreement they reach in mediation.  In court, the parties are bound by the decision rendered by the judge.  Thus, mediation is most effective when the parties reach an agreement that everyone is happy with and will be willing to comply with.  Otherwise, the parties may end up (back) in court.