The civil court system in the United States is intended to be a way for parties with a dispute to settle the dispute. Ideally, the issues are settled without the need for a trial through negotiations between the parties; however, when a trial is necessary either a judge or jury will decide the outcome of the case. There is yet another way to settle civil disputes though – alternative dispute resolution, or ADR. There are several different ADR methods used, with mediation being one of the most commonly used options. If you are scheduled for mediation, or are considering the use of a mediator, you may be wondering “ Can a mediator take sides? ” The simple answer to that question is “no”.
Mediation is used in many different types of civil cases, including family law cases, contract disputes, and landlord-tenant disputes just to name a few. Mediators are usually attorneys who have completed specialized training in mediation techniques and are now certified mediators. Mediation takes place outside of the courtroom, often at the mediator’s office or another neutral location. Generally, the parties will submit a summary of their position to the mediator prior to the scheduled mediation so that the mediator has some idea what the issues are in the case and where the parties stand on those issues.
When the mediation begins the mediator usually speaks to all parties individually to get a better idea of what is most important to each party. A mediator should remain neutral throughout the mediation. The goal of the mediator is to bring the parties together to reach a mutually agreeable resolution to the issues in the case. A mediator will typically advocate for all parties throughout the mediation. He/she will try and convince one side to compromise on an important issue to the other party and vice versa. At no time, however, will a mediator take sides. He/she may provide suggestions for possible areas of compromise or agreement and may even give advice to all parties involved in the case but that advice should not be biased toward any specific party to the litigation.
Ultimately, the mediator’s role is to move the parties toward an out of court resolution of all issues in the case. If that is not possible, the mediator may try and get the parties to agree on some of the issues or even some of the facts in the case. Of course the parties are not required to reach an agreement through mediation; however, mediation has proven to be a fairly successful alternative to an expensive and time consuming trial.
If you have additional questions or concerns about mediation or other Alternative Dispute Resolution, contact the experienced South Carolina civil law attorneys at Kuhn & Kuhn Law Firm by calling 843-577-3700 to schedule your appointment.