Do you want to know more about mediation?
Most people are not familiar with the mediation process, and its differences from going to court. It is important to remember that mediation preserves your interests and allows you to achieve a negotiated solution.
If you are invited to go to a mediation to solve a dispute in which you are a party, you may find that you have no choice but to participate in mediation to deal with the problem. As a result, it is to your advantage to fully understand the mediation process to enhance your opportunity to have the mediation end in a more favorable outcome for you.
The mediation process begins with the assumption that both parties are willing to discuss the issues and that they are willing to compromise to some extent. The parties recognize that they were not able to resolve the disputed items themselves due to contrasting positions and that a trained neutral mediator will be able to help the parties reach a settlement.
By exploring the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s position, the mediator provides a secure process, helps to defuse parties’ emotions and guide them towards objectively looking at all of the consequences of the various options that are available in the decision making process.
The parties both look at the mediator as a neutral intervenor. At his request, they provide personal and confidential information in private discussions that are commonly known as caucuses. At appropriate times during the mediation process, the parties may authorize the mediator to transmit settlement offers to the other party with the ultimate goal of reaching a final agreement on the disputed items.
The mediator’s role is not to decide who is right or who is wrong, but to facilitate discussions between the parties to help them reach a settlement that is fair and equitable to both parties. The final settlement agreement is a legal document and can be enforced in a court of law.
In most mediation both parties are involved in the selection of the mediator, unless there is a Board-designated provider of services.
Attorneys may be involved in the mediation process but it is not required. Many people feel that they are not good presenters of their own position and feel that an attorney will help strengthen their presentation.
In mediation, both sides will initially try to sway the mediator towards his/her position, only to learn that the real negotiation is going between parties. The mediator is a neutral person and will not be making any decisions.
Unlike in an arbitration or civil litigation, parties have the opportunity to speak by themselves and to personally express opinions and personal feelings.
It is better to have a positive attitude when selecting mediation. Most people feel that they have such a clear view of the problem that they should prevail, so mediation is either unnecessary or useless.
Both sides might be wrong because a good mediator should be able to change those fixed attitudes by guiding the mediation process towards an amicable settlement. Remember, mediation has over a 90% success ratio in settling disputes prior to the case going to trial.
THE ADVANTAGES OF MEDIATION
There are many advantages to mediation over other forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) or civil litigation. Below are some of the major advantages that mediation offers as an alternative dispute resolution option. The mediators’ and arbitrators’ main responsibility is to be fair and equitable to all parties.
- Mediation is much less costly than civil litigation for many reasons;
- Most mediators who specialize in condo mediation charge by the hour and the mediation usually is completed in one or two days.
- Attorneys are not necessary but may participate at the request of a disputant.
- There should be no court filing fees and related expenses.
- Mediation is a much faster process than civil litigation.
- Disputants are full participants and can express their own opinions and concerns, where in civil litigation and in most arbitration, the disputants’ attorneys are the only ones who represent the disputant unless the disputant “takes the stand” and is subject to cross-examination by the opposing attorney.
- Mediation allows the opportunity for disputants to work together and reach a settlement and continue to work together to get to a consensual solution they can live with. In civil litigation, most often there is a verdict or decision by a judge or jury and the disputants accept as per the court rendered award and the contractor/homeowner relationship comes to an unfriendly end.
- Mediation is so informal that if the condo association bylaws do not include an alternative dispute resolution option, mediation may be scheduled by mutual agreement of both parties.
- In mediation, both parties may have the opportunity to select the mediator. In civil litigation, you have no options in the choice of your judge and limited involvement in the selection of the jury.
- Mediation is a private process and not subject to public knowledge and possible media attention as can be the case with civil litigation.
- If no settlement is reached, the case can be scheduled for hearing before the court.
FIVE QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN SELECTING A MEDIATOR:
||What are your qualifications and experience as a mediator?|
||What is your familiarity with Florida condo regulations?|
||How many condo disputes have you mediated successfully?|
||How much will it cost to mediate my complaint?|
||How long will mediation take? (Compute time for individual sessions and for the entire process.)|
WHAT ARE THE COSTS?
It depends of the kind of dispute involved. Usually mediators charge a reasonable amount per party, plus other charges if necessary.
To find a local mediator with a condo specialization call: