Mediation Frequently Asked Questions

What is mediation?

Mediation is an informal settlement process designed to bring all of the persons involved in the dispute (and their lawyers, if any) together with the mediator in an attempt to settle the dispute. Some mediations can be completed in less than a full day. Others require more than one day.

What are the mediator's roles?

My roles as the mediator are to facilitate the discussion among the parties, to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be heard and to express their views of the situation and to help the parties come to a settlement which ends the dispute.

I do not impose an outcome or a settlement on anyone. Any settlement must be agreed to by all of the parties. If a settlement is reached, then I usually prepare a brief, point-form Settlement Agreement which everyone signs right then and there.

What are the advantages of mediation compared to a court trial?

  • Mediation is private. The mediation is held in a private boardroom or meeting room, and only the people involved in the situation are allowed to attend. By contrast, trials are held in open court, and in almost all cases the public is allowed to sit in the courtroom and watch the entire trial.
  • Mediation is confidential. Before the mediation begins, everyone involved (including the lawyers and me) must sign a Mediation Agreement which, among other things, specifies that the mediation must remain confidential. In short, what happens at the mediation stays at the mediation.
  • Mediation usually costs much less than going to court for a trial. Most mediations take a half-day to a day. Most court trials last at least a few days.
  • Mediation can lead to more creative, flexible settlements. A mediated settlement can be crafted in any way that the parties themselves think is feasible and acceptable. Sometimes for legal reasons a judge simply cannot fashion as flexible an outcome as the parties can on their own.

How do I decide if mediation is appropriate for my situation?

If you have a lawyer, ask him or her. Most lawyers are familiar with mediation and can advise you if mediation is appropriate in your circumstances.

If you don't have a lawyer, call me (250-564-5544, or toll-free 1-877-964-5544). I will ask you for the names of all of the parties (to ensure that I don’t have a conflict of interest) and for a brief summary of the situation. Then I can discuss with you whether mediation appears to be appropriate in your situation.

When can a mediation take place?

If all the parties agree, a mediation can be scheduled to take place at any mutually convenient time, before or after a lawsuit has been started.

Sometimes mediations are scheduled to take place near the end of the court process, shortly before the case is scheduled to go to trial. In other situations, mediations are booked shortly after the dispute arises and before a lawsuit is filed, particularly where the situation is urgent and everyone needs a quick solution.

If a lawsuit has been started and a party is reluctant to attend a mediation, in some cases that reluctant party can be compelled to attend a mediation session by way of a "Notice to Mediate," pursuant to certain provincial regulations. (Note that although reluctant parties can be compelled to attend a mediation in some situations, they cannot be compelled to settle. A settlement at a mediation must be reached with the agreement of all of the parties involved in the settlement.)

Where will the mediation take place?

I am willing to travel throughout British Columbia for mediations, year-round.

For the mediation itself, I will need one meeting room which is large enough to accommodate everyone at once, plus one or more separate smaller meeting rooms (depending on the number of participants). During the mediation I will use the smaller private room(s) to meet privately with one or more of the parties. For example, if the dispute involves people in an office workplace, then we may be able to use the office's boardroom and one or more empty offices for the mediation. But if it's preferable to have the mediation take place on "neutral territory," then I will rent meeting rooms at a hotel or similar facility.

Does everyone involved have to be physically present in the same location for a mediation?

Preferably, yes. However, it's often the case that the parties are from different cities or towns, and there can be an understandable concern about travel costs, particularly where the amount of money in dispute isn't large. In these cases, it may make sense to arrange a "distance mediation" (a mediation conducted by telephone conference call or by video-conference). Distance mediation can work well in the right circumstances:

  • Everyone needs a private, quiet place where they won't be disturbed during the mediation.
  • Everyone needs the facility and equipment to send, receive, and deal with documents (computer, Internet access, fax machine, printer-scanner, etc.) during the mediation. For example, it may be helpful to circulate new photographs or other paperwork which may not have been seen by everyone beforehand. And if a settlement is reached, everyone should be able to sign and return to me right away the point-form settlement agreement which I will prepare.

How do I schedule a mediation?

If you want to schedule a mediation, here's what I need to know to get started:

  • The names of all the parties involved in the situation.
  • How long you think the mediation will take (a half day, a full day, more than one day).
  • Where the mediation will take place (at your office or building, or at rented meeting rooms in a hotel or similar facility).

Then call my secretary, Stephanie (250-564-5544, or toll-free 1-877-964-5544), and she'll take it from there.

Is there anything else for me to do before the mediation?

If the dispute is particularly complex or sensitive, it can be helpful for me to have a pre-mediation meeting with each party, in private, a few days before the mediation. I will contact you if I think a private pre-mediation meeting would be useful.

Before the mediation, each of the participants should send me a Mediation Summary, which is a summary of the relevant facts in the situation along with what that party sees as the issues to be discussed at the mediation. A typical Mediation Summary is usually about two to five pages long. The prior exchange of these Mediation Summaries helps to ensure that everyone understands what everyone else has to say about the facts and issues, and helps to avoid surprises during the mediation itself.

How much do you charge as a mediator?

Please call my secretary, Stephanie, or me for my current mediation hourly rate. Mediation fees are GST-taxable, but not PST-taxable. Travel time, travel expenses, room rental charges, and lunch catering are extra. In some cases I will require a deposit in advance of the mediation. Don't hesitate to call me or my secretary, Stephanie, to discuss the details or to ask for a copy of my current mediation fee schedule.

 


 

IMPORTANT NOTE

The foregoing contains some general legal information, based on the law of British Columbia. Readers should consult a lawyer to obtain specific legal advice about their particular situation.

Your Prince George and northern BC Lawyer and Mediator.

Contact Andrew Kemp