Let’s start with the basics. Mediation is a form of dispute resolution that allows two aggrieved parties the opportunity to resolve an issue at a negotiation table. While sometimes considered a “first step” before advancing to more drastic measures, it is often a way for the parties involved to civilly resolve a problem, whether personal or business, without ever having to go forward with a full civil trial.
Benefit: Mediation does not involve a judge or jury
Mediation is a voluntary and private supervised negotiation that takes place outside of a courtroom. In order to proceed, both parties need to be willing to move forward with mediation.
Benefit: Mediation usually fosters amicable relationships
In many cases, mediation allows the parties to leave the negotiation with a pleasant relationship in tact, whereas dealing with sensitive issues and disputes without a mediator can end in severed ties, whether the relationship was business or personal.
Benefit: Mediation costs less money and takes less time than a civil trial
There is no lengthy preparation or execution process, so mediation is much quicker and is much less expensive than a case with a trial and a judge. If appropriate, it can be a much more cost-efficient solution than other legal options.
Downsides: Mediation is not always an appropriate solution
For some situations, mediation is not the most ideal course of action. For example, mediate.com lists a variety of reasons that mediation may not be the best solution. The lists includes (but is not limited to) situations in which a party is seeking retribution, a party needs the power of the court to act as a balance, a party refuses to participate in good faith, or the parties see no room for compromise. In these cases, further legal action should be taken.
Downsides: Mediation is non-binding
If the parties involved wish for a binding resolution, mediation is not the correct course of action. In this case, mediation would be considered a “first step” before moving on to a civil trial, where a judge would decide what the terms of the resolution would entail, and the parties involved would be legally bound to the court’s decision.