What is mediation?

Mediation is an informal process in which a neutral third party assists the parties in a dispute to reach their own resolution. This neutral third party, or mediator, differs from a judge or arbitrator in that he or she does not impose a solution on the parties. Given that the parties work together to resolve the dispute, mediation should be a co-operative process rather than combative as it is within the traditional court process. As a result, mediation may assist in preserving the relationship between the parties that may be destroyed through litigation. Further, since mediation is a private process, concerns over litigation publicity should not arise.

In order to mediate, it is not required that the parties have already begun resolving the dispute through litigation. Mediation, in general, is less costly and more time efficient than litigation. It should be noted that while a resolution may be reached by the parties, it is not binding unless it is included within a settlement agreement.

While there are significant benefits to mediation, it is only appropriate for those parties who are interested in listening to the other's point of view. Also, there are some circumstances where mediation is not appropriate. For example, where there is a significant power imbalance between the disputing parties or if one party has been victimized by the other, working together to resolve the dispute carries significant potential to further the imbalance or victimization.