Mediation & Arbitration FAQ
Mediation is a less costly, quicker method to resolve your disputes. There is no Court involved. The best, longest-lasting solutions are always the ones that parties work out for themselves with the help of a skilled facilitator. You can design the process within an organized framework that is sustainable, and you design the outcomes.
The mediator's skill comes from providing a safe place for the process, and an environment of respect that moves the parties toward finality.
Ms. Findlay's superior knowledge of the law assists both parties to know their legal rights and obligations as they work through the specifics together.
As a lawyer, she can then reduce your agreement into a form that will be accepted as legally binding once it is signed in the presence of an independent legal advisor. All mediation discussions are "without prejudice" meaning they cannot be used in any later court proceedings should mediation fail.
Mediation-Arbitration, or Med-Arb for short, is a combination of the two processes. The parties agree at the outset that if they resolve most, but not all, their issues, they will allow the Mediator to then 'switch hats' and act as an Arbitrator on the remaining issues in dispute. Again, this is much quicker and less costly than going to Court to start all over again, or go to Court to have the final issues decided.
Arbitration is another form of alternate dispute resolution that saves our clients time, money and the anxiety of the court process. There are some legal issues that simply cannot be mediated, or the parties may have already gone through a failed mediation process. They are looking for someone to hear the evidence and make the final decision for them to resolve their issues. They agree to be bound by the Arbitrator's decision. There are still narrow grounds of appeal to a Court if a party does not agree with an Arbitrator's decision, but usually parties are satisfied with the Arbitration Award as it brings finality.
Ms. Findlay, acting as Arbitrator, is knowledgeable and experienced as a trial lawyer and an Administrative Law Judge. She will conduct the required hearings with knowledge of the applicable law and the rules on admissibility of evidence, and will undertake the scheduling of disclosure and the hearing(s) in a timely manner.
An Agreement to Arbitrate, signed by both parties, is required and case management ahead of the hearing(s) is essential. At the conclusion of the presentation of evidence, the Arbitrator will advise the parties as to the length of time by which they can expect to receive the written Award reasons.
What is mediation like?
Mediation is mean to be informal, informative and transformative. It comes under the broader category of Alternate Dispute Resolution, a way to resolve your legal disputes in a forum that is an alternative to the court process.
Separate pre-mediation meetings are held with each party, when the mediator will undertake a screening process to assess whether mediation is appropriate in your circumstances. Each party is encouraged to obtain separate independent legal advice, and this is when organizational issues can be laid out such as the requirement for financial disclosure, identification of the legal issues in dispute, initial documentation to be delivered, scheduling, and the signing of an Agreement to Mediate. This Agreement makes it clear that mediation is a non-binding process, with the purpose of reaching a binding settlement at the end that will be reduce to writing.
After these separate pre-screening meetings with each party, mediation can take different forms but typically involves both joint sessions and breakout sessions where the mediator, as a neutral facilitator, supports the parties in resolving the issues outstanding between them. It is also the mediator's role to make the parties generally aware of the relevant law, and assist them in exploring options and potential areas of agreement, without taking sides.
If the dispute is in the area of Family matters, there may be an impact on others to be worked out such as extended family, creditors and children.
When all substantial issues are resolved, the mediator will prepare Settlement Minutes setting out the areas of agreement in brief. Upon approval, the mediator then prepares a draft Separation Agreement in a form that may be filed with the Court upon finalization and then becomes legally binding.