There are two primary types of alternative dispute resolution or ADR processes utilized in New Jersey today. These are arbitration and mediation. Mediation is a broadly used ADR process in resolving business disputes, including issues involving contracts. Understanding mediation as a problem-solving ADR process is useful to a person seeking a means to resolve some type of business-related dispute.
Basic definition of mediation
Mediation is defined as a structured and interactive process. An impartial third party assists those involved in a dispute to somehow resolve the conflict. A mediator does not make decisions for the parties of a mediation. Rather, a mediator assists in fostering productive communication and aids the parties in working toward an agreement to resolve their dispute or issue.
Four primary components of mediation
In considering mediation more specifically, there are four primary components necessary to exist for this type of ADR to occur. Understanding these steps in the process is necessary when comparing and contrasting ADR, mediation, and arbitration.
- Parties must be willing to negotiate because mediation is by its very nature a voluntary process.
- A neutral mediator is vital as this person must have sufficient knowledge and skills related not only to the mediation process but to the matters at issue between the parties.
- A mediation agreement must be developed, which is an accord that delineates the rules to be followed during a mediation.
- If mediation is successful, a mediation agreement is drafted and signed by the parties.
Mediation does not mean a person or a company abandons the need for legal representation. Although legal counsel typically does not play a direct role in a mediation session, an attorney is still available to advise a party of legal rights and interests during the process.