The parties to a dispute have many options for how to reach a resolution. The litigation process, which can lead to lengthy courtroom proceedings, is only one option. It is often the last resort after other efforts have not been successful. Mediation is another way that they can attempt to work out their differences. A skilled mediator can help two or more parties involved in a dispute find common ground and reach an agreement that everyone finds acceptable. Mediation can resolve an ongoing lawsuit, or it can prevent a lawsuit from happening at all. Niven & Smith, LLP offers mediation services to businesses in the Bay Area in disputes involving real estate transactions, business disputes, and other matters. The firm’s attorneys are also skilled litigators who can represent clients during the mediation process.
Niven & Smith, LLP partner Stanley W. Smith has extensive experience as a mediator and arbitrator in a broad range of real estate and business disputes. He has also served as a court-appointed referee in partition and partnership dissolution litigation.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in which the parties to a lawsuit or other dispute work with a neutral third party, known as a mediator, to try to settle the dispute. Mediators receive specialized training in communication and negotiation techniques. The mediator facilitates a dialogue between the parties and their attorneys with the goal of obtaining a settlement agreement. Mediation can save litigants the time and expense associated with taking a case through the full litigation process.
Although many mediators have a background in law, a mediator’s role is to assist the parties in the process of negotiating a settlement, not to direct the process in any particular direction. A mediator cannot give legal advice to anyone involved in a mediation with them. They can help the parties identify options, but they cannot recommend any particular course of action.
Mediation is voluntary in most situations, meaning that all parties to a dispute must agree to participate in the process. Some disputes must go to mediation before the parties can pursue any other legal remedies. A court may order litigants to attempt mediation before a case proceeds to trial.
The outcome of a mediation depends on the parties’ willingness to reach an agreement. A mediator can help the parties identify separate elements of their dispute, and deal with each of them in turn. Even if the parties cannot resolve the entire dispute, they might be able to reach a partial settlement agreement which could result in the voluntary dismissal of some claims in the lawsuit.
Participants in mediation agree to keep everything said during mediation sessions confidential. Statements made during mediation are not admissible in court. Confidentiality enables the parties to speak freely, without the need to worry that anyone can use their words against them later.
Mediation is available for any dispute, no matter how big or small. Parties to lawsuits often use mediation to help find a way towards a settlement before going to trial. People or businesses may also choose to mediate a dispute that has not reached the litigation stage yet.
When the parties to a lawsuit reach an agreement through mediation, the mediator can help them draft a written agreement that covers all of the claims they have successfully resolved. The parties’ lawyers can then, if necessary, incorporate the agreement into an order or judgment to present to a judge.
Parties that agree to mediate before anyone files a lawsuit can also prepare a written agreement with the mediator’s help. Their lawyers can make certain that the agreement is enforceable as a contract.
Niven & Smith, LLP offers mediation services in the Bay Area for disputes involving real estate litigation, commercial litigation, business transactions, and other issues. They also represent clients in mediation proceedings, advocating for their interests while helping them come to an amicable resolution. If you have questions about the mediation process, please contact the firm online or at (415) 981-5451 today to set up a confidential consultation.