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Mediation – An Overview

Mediation is the process of bringing two parties (or more) together to resolve a dispute or conflict. In law, mediation is used as a tool to help settle cases by bringing the parties together. Mediation is conducted by a neutral third party professional called a mediator.  Often, mediators are retired judges or lawyers who have considerable prior experience in practice.  However, mediators come from all walks of life. A mediator must undergo training and certification prior to being allowed to mediate. Additionally, there are mediators that can only handle county claims and others that can handle circuit court or federal claims. The dividing line between county and circuit court in an amount in conflict of up to $ 15,000.00 or greater. F.S. 34.01(1)(c).

Mediation is a great tool to allow you or your attorney to understand the other parties’ position and to attempt to negotiate a final resolution of the case. Mediation allows the parties to craft their own resolution to their issues without the cost and expense of having the matter go to trial.

Mediation can also be a wake-up call to clients who overvalue their case, but it can also be a situation where the opposing side purposefully undervalues your case to see if you will reduce your demand.   It is important to have an attorney that has participated in mediation before. The vast majority of lawsuits are settled before a trial is held and many civil cases will eventually be resolved in in mediation. In fact, mediation is almost always required pre-trial, in state court cases, and is a requirement for all federal court cases. It is important to remember that mediation and arbitration are two separate and distinct processes. A mediator tries to strike a compromise between the parties and a mediator never makes a legally binding finding of fact or ruling. If mediation does not work out, or you aren’t satisfied with the negotiations, then you always have the option to end them after making a good faith attempt to resolve the case with the opposing side. Arbitration, on the other hand, is a much more formal process that can be binding on the parties.

If you need assistance with a mediation or have questions about mediation, feel free to contact attorney John Frazier.