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.