Monday, May 07, 2007
I have pasted a short article below which provides a simple but useful explanation of mediation and why it can be a better solution for many people to resolve their disputes. The article - "Finding Middle Ground" - is from the Savannah Morning News out of Georgia and a link to the article is here.
"SOMETIMES, THE parties in a dispute can work things out more amicably in a less formal situation.
That's why the decision by the Chatham County Superior Court to require mediation for much of their caseload makes sense.
Although the parties may also be represented by legal counsel at a mediation, the process allows for factors to be brought up that might not be admissible as evidence in court. Facets of a disagreement such as how a person was affected emotionally can be considered in mediation, when they might otherwise never be heard in court.
Another positive aspect is that while mediation cannot resolve questions of law, the agreements that are reached via mediation are based in equity: What the parties agree to be fair.
By reaching an agreement in this fashion, the parties need not emerge from the procedure as winners and losers, as in a court battle.
The more fluid give-and-take of mediation allows for each side to have input in the outcome, rather than a decision being imposed upon the losing party by a judge and jury.
In mediation, a neutral third party typically meets with those involved in the dispute, both together and separately, before coming to nonbinding suggestions on how to end the controversy.
While the practice - typically viewed as a method to settle arguments between unions and big business - has seen more use in civil cases in recent decades, mediation has a long history as part of U.S. law.
In fact, American settlers used dispute resolution to settle issues very early on. Historians also note that George Washington included a mediation clause in his will to settle arguments among his heirs, and Abraham Lincoln served as a mediator in a boundary dispute between two farmers.
Two simple factors keep mediation a valid part of current dispute resolution: Time and money.
It is usually cheaper for the parties and the courts for disputes to go to mediation, those involved in the dispute can find resolution more quickly, and mediated issues lighten the Superior Court's caseload, which can number in the thousands for civil cases alone."