Several reasons exist for choosing mediation over other channels of dispute resolution:
- Parties to a dispute may choose mediation as a less expensive route to follow for dispute resolution. While a mediator may charge a fee, comparable to that of an attorney, the mediation process generally takes much less time than moving a case through standard legal channels. While a case in the hands of a lawyer or filed in court may take months or even years to resolve, a case, at mediation usually achieves a resolution in a matter of hours. Taking less time means spending less money on hourly fees and costs.
- Mediation offers a confidential process while court hearings of cases happen in public, whatever happens in mediation remains strictly confidential. No one but parties to the dispute and the mediator(s) know what has gone on in mediation forum. In fact, confidentiality in mediation has such importance that in most cases the legal system cannot force a mediator to testify in court as to the content or progress of mediation. Many mediators will actually destroy their notes taken during a mediation session once that mediation has finished. The only exception to such strict confidentiality usually involves child abuse or actual threatened criminal acts.
- Mediation offers multiple and flexible possibilities for resolving a dispute and for the control the parties have over the resolution. In a case filed in court, the parties will obtain a resolution, but a resolution thrust upon the parties by the judge or jury. The result probably will leave neither party to the dispute totally happy. In mediation, on the other hand, the parties have control over the resolution can be unique to the dispute.
- Often, solutions developed by the parties are ones that a judge or jury could not provide. Thus; mediation is more likely to produce a result that is mutually agreeable, or win/win, for the parties. And because the result is attained by the parties working together and is mutually agreeable, the compliance with the agreement. The mediated agreement is, however, fully enforceable in a court of law.
- The mediation process consist of a mutual endeavor unlike in negotiations (where parties are often entrenched in their positions), parties to mediation usually seek out mediation because they are ready to work toward a resolution to their dispute. The mere fact that parties are willing to mediate in most circumstances means that they are ready to move their position. Since both parties are willing to work toward resolving the case, they are most likely to work with one another than against one another. The parties thus are amenable to understanding the other party’s side and work on understanding issues to the dispute. This has the added benefit of often preserving the relationship the parties had before the dispute.
- Finally, but certainly not the least, and as mentioned earlier, the mediation takes place with the aid of a mediator who is a neutral third party. A good mediator is trained in conflict resolution and working with difficult situations. The good mediator is likely to work as much with the emotional aspects and relationship aspects of a case as he/she is to work on the topical issues of the matter. The mediator, as a neutral party gives no legal advice, but guides the parties through the problem solving process. The mediator may or may not suggest alternative solutions to the dispute. Whether he or she offers advice or not, the trained mediator helps the parties think outside of the box for possible solutions to the dispute, thus enabling the parties to find the avenue to dispute resolution that suits them best.