Alternative Dispute Resolution Service
Mediation is not about who is right or wrong, or who wins the case, but about negotiating a settlement so everyone involved reaches a resolution that meets their own needs.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a means of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). It is an alternative to a sometimes expensive and time-consuming use of the court system. It may also be seen as a non-confrontational, informal way of resolving conflict or misunderstanding.
Mediation is a way for people to work out their own problems and arrive at mutually acceptable agreements with the help of a trained mediator. It is a process that leaves you in control of the resolution of your dispute.
Mediation is a voluntary process. Anyone wishing to settle their dispute reasonably and at less cost can reach an agreement in mediation. It is effective even when anger is high and communications have broken down.
The world is a complex place, filled with people of different values, cultures, and backgrounds. When people live in close proximity to one another, it’s not unusual for disputes to arise over noise, parking, children’s behavior, pets and property. It is also not uncommon to encounter landlord/tenant, consumer, and employer/employee disputes in today’s society. While such disputes often end up in court, the judicial system is not designed to resolve such problems quickly, economically, or in a manner that seems satisfactory to both disputants.
The Benefits of Mediation
Mediators are trained and skilled in helping people examine their situation in terms of their needs and interests. They typically assist the parties in gathering information, discussing settlement options, and realizing a positive result. They are non-attorney and attorney volunteers with a distinct interest in assisting others to resolve conflict.
- Promotes communication
- Costs less than litigation
- Is confidential – no public disclosure of personal problems
- Preserves relationships
- Is less time-consuming
- Enables the parties to stay in control
If you are considering mediation as a means of resolving a dispute or conflict, the following information on the mediation process and the SOLANO COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) should be helpful in making a decision.
The Role of the Mediator
Mediators are trained, impartial third parties who volunteer their services because they believe in the power of mediation and collaborative negotiation as effective conflict resolution tools. They may or may not be attorneys. Mediators do not serve as judge or jury, do not seek to determine right and wrong, or place blame. Mediators do not impose a decision on either party like a judge or arbitrator. Their only interest is in helping you resolve differences and reach a mutually agreeable solution.
Mediators do not give legal or professional advice. Rather, mediators facilitate communication by helping disputants describe their feelings, clarify issues, determine their true interests, identify underlying concerns, and where possible, reach agreement.
The Mediation Process
The mediation process is less formal and less intimidating than a court proceeding. Each disputant is given plenty of uninterrupted time to tell his or her side of the story. The mediators will ask questions in order to assure that both parties thoroughly understand the other’s point of view. In addition to the face-to-face dialogue, the mediator(s) may also have a private meeting, or “caucus,” with each party to get a clear idea of their goals and needs.
In the final part of the mediation, potential resolutions are explored. If the parties reach a resolution, the mediator(s) may help them write an “agreement” which sets out the terms of their resolution. The parties can decide whether their agreement is legally binding or non-binding. The parties will be advised to consult with an attorney if they desire to have their agreement put into a legally binding form.
Mediations are confidential. For mediation to be successful, the parties must feel free to discuss the issues openly. In order to promote this communication and to facilitate settlement of the dispute, you will be asked to read and sign a confidentiality statement before the mediation session begins.
All participants in the mediation, including the mediator(s) and any observers, will be required to sign the confidentiality statement. By signing the confidentiality statement you are making the mediation confidential and preventing information given or discussed in the session from being used in any future legal case.
Length of the Mediation
Mediation sessions usually take between 1.5 and 3 hours. Please allow adequate time for your mediation session. If necessary, a second mediation may be scheduled with the agreement of the disputants. Please bring your calendar so your availability for a subsequent session can be determined.
If you decide to use the services of DRS, your decision is a commitment that affects many people. Since DRS mediators volunteer their time to help you resolve your dispute, it is extremely important that you attend the mediation session scheduled for you and that you cancel only in the case of an emergency.
The Solano County Bar Association
The Solano County Bar Association has set up its Dispute Resolution Service as a community-based service, under a grant from Solano County, to reduce the number of cases going through the small claims court system. It is organized to use the services of volunteer mediators, both attorney and non-attorney, in order to help its disputants resolve their conflicts without court intervention. It recognizes the ability of individuals to resolve their own disputes, and the strength of agreements reached as a result of the mediation process.
For more information on the Dispute Resolution Service or to apply, contact us here.
Forms and Links
Conflict Mediation Guide
Arbitration and Mediation Processes & Court Programs Explained
Agreement for ADR Panel Member
Program Evaluation Form for ADR Panel Member
Solano County Courts Resource for ADRS
(Alternative Dispute Resolution Service)
ADS Forms From the State
Select Alternative Dispute Resolution