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Mediation - Understand how mediation works

Understand how mediation works

With mediation, a neutral person helps the parties to communicate so they can resolve their conflict

“We were at an impasse. My partner and I were separating, but we couldn’t agree on parenting arrangements for our children. We’d met to discuss it, but things were getting more tense after each meeting. We decided to hire a mediator. It was somebody we both didn’t know, so we were leery. In the end, the person helped us find common ground and reach a reasonable compromise. 

– Judy, Port Coquitlam

Using the court system (lawyers, so many forms, even more deadlines) is costly and complicated.

Mediation is a way to avoid these formalities — a neutral person steps in to guide the parties toward a resolution. Mediators are trained professionals. They’ll set the stage to give people a better chance at reaching an agreement.

Mediation keeps you in control of the process

Choosing a mediator doesn’t mean you’ve chosen someone to “decide” who is right or who is wrong. Instead, mediators help to facilitate the discussion between two sides where communication has broken down or has become hostile.

Taking a matter to court is a paradox — filing a claim feels like you’re taking control, but then the legal process, with all its rules and procedures, can make you feel like a prisoner to the system. Mediation breaks those shackles.

You and the mediator work together to reach consensus. This can take the form of one-on-one meetings or group sessions with the other party, or a combination of these approaches. You decide in advance how the process unfolds.

Mediation is informal and accessible

Mediation avoids armies of legal clerks and reams of court-filed paper. No formal lawyers robes either — mediation can happen in a relaxed and informal environment. 

If you live in a remote area, mediation is available. There are mediators all across the province, or, if it isn’t feasible for the two parties to be in the same location, video chat can be used. 

Mediation is fast and less expensive

When you set a court date, you typically don’t see the judge the next day. Or even the next month. Trials can take a very long time to resolve. Imagine paying a lawyer by the hour for several years!

With mediation, disputes are resolved quickly, often as fast as a few weeks. Mediation fees are far less expensive, and you can get more certainty in advance for what it will all cost.

On average in BC, an entire mediation process might cost around $2,000. Usually, that’s split 50/50 between participants. That can be up to ten times less than the cost of a court case.

Mediation can be used for a variety of disputes

While family and workplace disputes are popular for mediation, a mediator can be tapped for most any civil dispute. If a court case has already started, you can even force the other party to mediate. (There are a few exceptions, which we explain below.)

Mediation works — if you put in the time and effort

Just because you hire a mediator doesn’t guarantee you will “win.” The parties have to work together with the mediator to come up with a solution. This often means compromise and a willingness to engage with someone that you’re already arguing with.

Mediation sets you up with the tools — informal, flexible and accessible tools — to help you resolve a dispute. But it’s on you to be open and available to the process. 

Want to learn more about whether mediation is good for you? Mediate BC has a feature on conflict resolution options. See if mediation might be a good fit for you and your legal matter.