Mediation is a process in which disputing parties attempt to resolve their disagreements with the help of an impartial, trained third party – the mediator. The mediator does not offer opinions, pass judgment or render legally binding decisions. The mediator’s only function is to help parties identify their differences and reach agreement on how to resolve them.
When the disputing parties have reached and agreed on a mutually acceptable solution, they sign a written agreement which outlines the terms of the settlement. Once the agreement is signed, parties are legally bound to abide by its terms. If the parties cannot reach a mutually agreeable settlement, they are free to arbitrate or litigate their dispute as if the mediation never took place.
In addition to being easier, faster, and less expensive than litigation, mediation is non-adversarial. Decisions rendered by an arbitrator or judge usually involve a winning party and a losing party. In mediation, there are no losing parties because the parties have been part of the process and together have agreed to the terms of the settlement.