Mediation can be a great way to enforce payment if both parties are willing to compromise. Mediation is a process wherein the parties meet with a mutually selected (unless appointed by the court) impartial and neutral person who assists them with negotiating their differences. Mediation leaves the decision power totally and strictly with the parties, not the mediator. The mediator does not decide what is fair or right, does not assess blame nor render a formal or binding opinion on the merits of the case, or chances of success if the case were litigated; however, the mediator will typically offer an opinion as to the strengths and weaknesses of both parties’ case in an attempt to reach a compromise. The mediator will seek concessions from each side during the mediation process. If the dispute is not resolved during the mediation, the statements, documents created for the mediation, and any concessions made during the mediation, typically cannot later be used against any of the parties as admissions of liability or introduced as evidence if the matter proceeds to trial.
Mediation generally begins with a joint session to set an agenda, define the issues, and ascertain the position and/or concerns of the parties. The joint session is then followed by a separate caucus between the mediator and each individual party or their counsel. This allows each side to confidentially explain their position to the mediator.
Mediation can be voluntary, ordered by the court, or contractually agreed to by the parties when their relationship was initially formed. If you file a lawsuit in district court mediation is mandatory and will be ordered by the court. The parties typically split the cost of mediation; fees alone can range anywhere from $300.00 to $1,000.00 an hour depending upon the mediator’s level of experience, expertise, and demand. Mediations are typically scheduled for a half or full day session, but in more complex construction cases involving multiple parties, can last several days or involve multiple sessions spread out over a longer period of time.