Certified Circuit Civil Mediation
Clearwater Business Law – Certified Circuit Civil Mediation
In the last decade, mediation as a form of alternative dispute resolution has grown increasingly popular across the U.S., especially in the business law context. This is in large part due to the fact that mediation allows all parties to avoid the high costs of litigation as well as the risks associated with going to trial. Although mediators do not issue orders, as neutral third parties they can be invaluable in helping parties negotiate a settlement. In Florida, those who fulfill the mandatory requirements can become certified by the state Supreme Court as Circuit Civil Mediators. As a certified mediator, I am able to oversee, in a court-appointed capacity, civil litigation matters and have a significant amount of experience mediating a variety of legal issues, so if you are interested in pursuing an alternative to litigation, please contact us today.
When to Mediate
Litigating business issues can quickly turn contentious. In an effort to cut down on court costs and promote settlement, judges will often order parties to mediate. Mediation can be used to solve a number of business-related legal problems, including:
- Resolving disputes between business partners;
- Negotiating the dissolution of an existing business arrangement;
- Resolving conflicts between employers and employees; and
- Resolving issues with other business entities.
Besides being cost effective, mediation offers a variety of other advantages over litigation, including:
- The preservation of existing business relationships that might be destroyed if the parties were to go through a lengthy and acrimonious trial;
- A faster resolution to the conflict as the parties are able to determine the pace of the negotiations and do not have to wait on court scheduling to reach a resolution;
- A more open flow of information between the parties who can participate in a more informal and honest dialogue;
- The creation of a more confidential and comfortable atmosphere;
- Long lasting and realistic resolutions that satisfy the basic needs of both parties;
- Confidentiality of all proceedings;
- The ability of both parties to contribute to the solution, rather than leaving it up to a judge or jury; and
- Avoiding future litigation over unfair results.
Generally, the parties will choose a mediator themselves, although if they are unable to reach an agreement, the court can appoint one for them. Court-appointed mediators are required to undergo specific training, abide by ethical standards, and receive certification from the Florida Supreme Court. Once a mediator has been chosen, he or she can initiate pre-mediation proceedings, in which both parties prepare a summary of the issues for the mediator to review. Alternatively, each party may choose to meet with the mediator individually to provide background information about the issues. Once all pre-mediation proceedings are completed, the parties will schedule a meeting date and choose a neutral location at which to meet.
When opening negotiations, a mediator must describe the mediation process as well as his or her role as the mediator. This requires informing the participants that:
- Mediation is a consensual process;
- Mediators are impartial facilitators who do not have the authority to impose a resolution on the parties; and
- Communications made during the mediation process are confidential, unless disclosure is required by law.
The mediator’s main goal is to get all parties to communicate amicably with each other and to identify common goals. Crucial to this process is the full disclosure by all parties of the important facts and evidence involved in the case. To ensure that nothing is left out, all parties should carefully organize their records and bring copies to the meeting.
The mediator will then meet with each party separately and then as a group in an effort to understand each party’s needs and interests. The separate meeting is referred to as a caucus and unless the mediator is given permission by the parties, he or she cannot repeat what was discussed. Furthermore, mediators are not allowed to provide counseling or legal advice to either party, but are only permitted to act as a guide to help the parties reach a compromise. Mediation proceedings can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. The length of time will largely depend on the complexity of the case and the number of parties involved.
Terminating Mediation Proceedings
Mediators are required to adjourn or terminate a meeting in certain circumstances, including:
- Upon agreement of the parties;
- When continuing the mediation would result in unreasonable emotional or financial costs to the parties;
- When the mediator believes that the case is unsuitable for mediation or if one of the parties is unable or unwilling to participate meaningfully;
- When a mediation involves fraud, duress, or the absence of bargaining ability; and
- When continuing mediation would endanger the physical safety of any person.
However, if the parties are able to come to an agreement, the mediator must record its terms before discussing the process by which they will be implemented. Both parties as well as their attorneys are required to sign the agreement. Alternatively, if the parties are able to agree on some of the issues, those agreements will be recorded and the remaining issues will be litigated in court. If the parties are unable to agree on any of the issues, the mediator will report to the court that the parties have reached an impasse and a judge or jury will decide the issues.
Contact Clearwater Business Law Today to Speak With an Experienced Certified Civil Circuit Mediator
Litigating a business-related dispute is not always the best option for the parties involved in the conflict. Attempting mediation, on the other hand, can save both parties money, time, and a significant amount of stress while also allowing for the possibility of a solution that meets the needs of everyone involved. However, mediation is not always possible, whether due to the number of parties involved or because one party is unwilling to communicate honestly and amicably with the others. To determine whether you should attempt to resolve your dispute through mediation, please contact the legal team at Clearwater Business Law by calling (727) 785-5100. We have experience mediating a variety of business-related issues and may be able to help you reach a resolution.