Frequently Asked Questions
1. Q. Will the mediator decide who wins or who loses?
A. No, the mediator is not a judge or decision-maker. Rather the mediator helps the parties to make their own decisions and determine their own outcome—usually, one that is a “win” for both sides.
2. Q. How can a mediator get the parties to agree when we cannot agree on our own?
A. A good mediator has training and experience in how to help parties improve their communication, understanding, and problem-solving abilities. She also knows how to help the parties see the benefits of self-determination so they want to agree among themselves rather than fight in court.
3. Q. Will the mediator force the parties to reach an agreement?
A. No, the facilitative mediation process used by this office is very deeply rooted in the notion of self-determination. If the parties do not want an agreement, the mediator will not force one on them.
4. Q. Why should I pay a mediator when a judge can decide my case for free?
A. "Going to trial is far from free. You take off work. You pay an attorney for work before and during court time. Also, there is a good deal of time spent waiting in court. In Mediation the process is usually quicker and the parties can divide the cost of the Mediator between them. As a result, in most cases, Mediation is less expensive than litigation."
1. Q. What is the difference between binding and non-binding Arbitration?
A. In binding Arbitration, a neutral third party, referred to as the Arbitrator, conducts a hearing (or an informal trial) between the disputing parties and makes a decision that the parties must follow. This is referred to as a binding award. The Arbitrator’s award in binding Arbitration is generally enforceable in court just as a judge’s order would be.
In non-binding Arbitration a hearing is conducted in the same manner as in binding Arbitration; however, the parties are not required to follow the Arbitrator’s decision. The parties can either jointly agree to follow the Arbitrator’s decision, continue their negotiations, and/or go to trial. The parties decide by agreement before the Arbitration starts whether they want it to be binding or non-binding.
2. Q. What are some of the benefits of Arbitration?
A. Arbitration provides the parties with the opportunity to jointly agree on who the decision-maker will be, unlike in a court of law where judges are assigned to cases. The selected arbitrator can be an individual who is familiar with the subject, or the area of law, or someone who is new to the disputed topics.
Arbitration saves time and can sometimes be scheduled almost immediately, as opposed to waiting for months, or years, for a formal court trial. This not only saves time, but it also saves money because it avoids costly and extensive ongoing pre-trial court hearings and other legal work. The parties often divide the cost of the arbitration and each party pays only one-half of the amount unless the parties agree otherwise.
1. Q. What are some examples of when Multi-Party Mediation/Facilitation may be used?
A. Some examples of Multi-Party Mediations/Facilitations are:
1. A highway interchange is being planned through a neighborhood. In the Mediation/Facilitation, all stakeholders (e.g. businesses, residents, environmentalists, government officials, etc.) are brought together to discuss the economic, safety, environmental, physical, governmental, political, etc. implications of the project and how best to carry it out.
2. A church is in turmoil because of issues within the congregation over the church by-laws, programming, leadership, care of the physical structure, etc. In the Mediation/Facilitation stakeholders (e.g. members, Directors, deacons, trustees, and ministries) are separately interviewed and later convened to decide how best to resolve their conflicts.
3. Tension is building in a neighborhood over alleged police misconduct and rising crime. In the Mediation/Facilitation, the stakeholders (e.g. residents, police, community leaders, neighborhood businesses, and local government) work together to establish a plan to identify needs, increase understanding, and diffuse tensions.