Benefits of Mediation
Mediation is Cost-Effective
The mediation process often takes less than one-half day. There is no formal presentation of witnesses or experts, which provides significant savings in time and money. When the mediation has concluded, the mediator's fee is then split equally between the parties (unless specifically otherwise agreed). This too results in substantial savings to the parties. For example, if the mediation process lasts four hours and the mediator's hourly rate is $300.00, then each party's financial responsibility to the mediator is only $600.00, and if there are more than two parties, the financial responsibility of each party is even less. Significantly, alternate dispute resolution providers indicate that nearly 80% of cases mediated settle on the day of the mediation.
On the other hand, if a matter is litigated, much of each party's actions and expenditures are determined and controlled by the opposing party, such as when responding to discovery requests. Attorneys' fees in preparing a lawsuit are often enormous, sometimes surpassing the amount of the dispute.
Approximately 95% of all cases settle prior to a judge or jury reaching a decision at the conclusion of a trial. Typically, these cases will settle "on the courthouse steps" or at a judicially mandated settlement conference within weeks or days of trial after the parties have already expended considerable sums on discovery and trial preparation. Mediation allows the parties to settle their dispute prior to spending huge sums of money on discovery and trial preparation for a trial that rarely takes place anyway.
Mediation is Confidential
Many parties prefer the private nature of mediation. This is especially true where one's reputation or business practices or trade secrets are involved. Nearly all matters that are litigated in court are public information.
Control of Time
Time is the only thing we all will eventually run out of. When a case is litigated, the typical discovery procedures such as depositions and interrogatories (written questions sent to the parties) take months and at times, years to complete. By choosing to mediate, most parties are able to reach an agreement within hours.
Control of Process
In litigation, the parties are tied to the schedule set by the court. In mediation, the parties determine when and where the mediation is scheduled.
In mediation, the parties can determine how long the process will take, the level of confidentiality, and can hand pick their mediator. If a matter is litigated and proceeds to court, the parties cannot select their judge or jury, and the attorneys and the judge will ultimately make the decisions and the parties are relegated to a spectator role.
The end result is that mediation clearly reduces the emotional (and physical) toll of litigation because the parties have more control over the process.
Control of Outcome
When a case is litigated in court, a judge or jury decides the matter. Neither party has any say in the outcome and there is always some element of surprise. In mediation, the matter is only resolved if both parties agree.