Step 1. Set expectations with yourself
Expectation setting is important. Spend some time reflecting on the issues you are about to mediate. What is important to you and why? What would a fair deal look like to you?
Write your expectations down on paper or electronically. Put the date on it. You don’t have to share this document with the mediator (or with anyone, for that matter); it’s an important piece of personal goal setting that will get you in the right mindset for mediation.
Step 2. Get the agreement of the parties involved
Mediation is usually a voluntary process. If you haven’t started a formal claim yet, all the people involved in the conflict need to agree to mediation. It could be good to discuss the possibility of mediation with the other party first. That way you both get involved in the process at step one.
If you’ve already filed a claim
If you’ve already filed a claim in the Supreme Court of BC, you can file a notice to mediate to compel the other party to mediate the matter. There are certain situations where you cannot do this, such as claims for compensation for abuse (see the list here).
If the other party ignores this request, the judge can pause the court case until mediation happens.
There are specific time frames you need to be aware of:
- The notice to mediate has to be filed within 60 days after the filing of the first statement of defence, and in any event within at least 120 days of the trial date.
- Once you send the notice to the other parties, you have 14 days to agree on a mediator, or otherwise have one appointed.
- Once you’ve agreed on a mediator, you have 60 days to complete the mediation.
Step 3. Find a mediator
To find a mediator, you can consult various directories (based on the nature of the dispute) maintained by Mediate BC.
On that first phone call with the prospective mediator, you can learn more about their style, the associated fees, and what else to expect.
Step 4. Prepare for the mediation
Once you choose a mediator, they will typically have a one-on-one discussion with each party before the mediation begins. Before this meeting, you should collect all relevant documentation to your dispute.
Step 5. Stay engaged with the process, and keep an open mind
As the process unfolds, there may be times when you feel like certain proposed resolutions are unfair. Keep an open mind. Mediation is designed for the parties to compromise, and the best compromise is where both parties leave feeling a little bit unsatisfied.
This is why the expectation setting exercise in Step 1 is so important. This is your North star. Refer back to those thoughts throughout the mediation.