DEEP: Mediation Fact Sheet

Office of Adjudications

 
Mediation Fact Sheet
 
What Is Mediation?
  • Mediation is an informal, cooperative, problem-solving process.  Its goal is to help parties to reach agreements and resolve issues in matters pending before the Office of Adjudications.
  • Mediation can be requested at any time- during the hearing process by any party or may be suggested by a hearing officer.
  • Mediation is an opportunity for a meeting between the  parties  to discuss disputed issues or matters that may be the subject of misunderstandings in order to resolve issues or find areas of agreement.
  • When parties mediate, they decide how their differences will be resolved.  They control the outcome of a process, not the mediator.
  • The mediator, a neutral third party who is not the hearing officer and who has been trained and is experienced, will facilitate an agreement that is acceptable to and binding on both sides. 
  • The mediation process is strictly confidential; information shared during mediation will not be disclosed to anyone, including a hearing officer if a matter subsequently becomes the subject of a hearing.
  • The decision to mediate is strictly voluntary and all parties must agree to mediate.   Mediation is NOT a legal proceeding.  The goal of mediation is to resolve differences efficiently and without the need for a formal process.    

What Is The  Process?

  • In some circumstances, the parties may be asked to sign an agreement outlining the conditions of their mediation session.  (See Sample Agreement.)
  • The rules that prevent private communications to a hearing officer do not apply; parties can speak to a mediator at any time without the presence of the other parties.
  • The session begins with an introductory statement from the mediator that explains the process and provides guidelines for the mediation. 
  • Each party will then have an opportunity to tell their story in their own words without interruption. 
  • After the initial statements are presented, the mediator may have a separate meeting with each party called a “caucus.”  During the caucus, participants may discuss other interests or issues confidentially with the mediator.
  • The process continues with combined meetings and caucuses to develop options and ultimately reach an agreement. 
  • If an agreement is reached, it is binding on the parties.  If there is no agreement, the mediator may suggest other options that may be available to the parties. 

Why Should I Mediate?

  • Mediation is an opportunity to discuss your interests in a matter without conflict or argument. 
  • Mediation can help parties move beyond barriers created by emotions or conflict.
  • Mediation is usually brief, cost effective, and efficient and often avoids more lengthy negotiations or a hearing.
  • Participants have an equal say in the process and decide their settlement terms.
  • Even if the parties do not reach a full agreement, some issues may be resolved.

What Are My Responsibilities?

  • Be prepared to discuss the issues, explain your interests or concerns, share information, and propose or consider all solutions.
  • Listen attentively and ask questions to clarify anything that is not clear.
  • An attorney need not be present to represent you, but get expert advice when necessary.
  • Be sure to bring the people who can authorize the details of a final agreement to the mediation session or have them available by phone.
  • Agree to keep all discussions confidential, unless certain exceptions are agreed to.