Learn More about the Law
What is mediation and can it help me?
Mediation is an alternative way of resolving disputes outside of the Court system. In mediation an independent person who has no vested interest in the outcome of a dispute assists two or more parties to develop their own choices and solutions to a problem and assists them as well in approaching negotiations in a co-operative and constructive fashion. Mediation is goal oriented in that it focuses on resolving specific issues. It can be an appropriate method for resolving commercial, insurance or labour disputes.
Mediation should not be confused with counselling. While a counselor may also be trained as a mediator, mediation is much more goal specific. Similarly, mediation should not be confused with arbitration, a process in which a mutually acceptable person or persons acts as a decision maker and imposes solutions on the disputing parties, whereas a mediator does not.
A mediation will help parties define issues in a dispute, will then assist parties in communicating their respective underlying desires and concerns regarding each issue and ultimately promote a resolution of each issue which is acceptable to all parties. A mediator keeps the parties focused on the issue at hand and encourages respectful communication, that is speaking in a way in which others will listen and understand. Mediation is therefore very well suited to resolving disputes where ongoing communication between parties is to be expected and encouraged after the dispute is resolved, eg. parent-child or employer-employee relationships.
Mediation can have several benefits for the participants. It can be much cheaper and faster than Court involvement. It can help build communication skills, and the solutions reached may be more appropriate to the parties who understand their own problems better than a Judge ever could.
Usually mediated agreements are reviewed by each party's lawyer prior to being signed.
Mediators may be lawyers, psychologists, social workers, teachers or other professionals, but they require specialized training in mediation in addition to their other professional qualifications. Peter Muttart is a professionally-trained practicing mediator. Many of our lawyers are experienced participants in mediation.
In some areas of Nova Scotia, mediation is now being used as an initial process for the Family and Supreme Courts in resolving family disputes prior to commencing Court proceedings. In other jurisdictions, personal injury or accident claims must be mediated instead of or prior to Court proceedings.
Mediation is a word you will hear used much more extensively in the coming years. If you have any questions, or are in need of mediation services, please give us a call.