During the course of a business litigation case, parties are often asked to mediate or consider mediation. Sometimes, parties consider mediation prior to litigation. In California, civil mediation is a type of alternate dispute resolution designed to assist parties in resolving their cases without litigation or trial.
Parties may have to mediate by contract, by stipulation, or by order of a judge. The judge may order mediation if the case is suitable and will often ask if the parties are open to mediation or some other type of alternate dispute resolution.
Upon initiation of mediation, the parties must complete various forms and applications. The parties will also likely have to pay any mediation fees or deposits. Afterwards, the parties will usually select a neutral party to act as the mediator. The parties may use a court-appointed mediator or a private third-party mediator. Parties may choose to use a court-sponsored mediator due to price, as private third party mediators may be more expensive. The mediator himself or herself is often a retired judge or attorney.
After a mediator is selected, a mediation time and place is scheduled. The mediator may send out specific instructions prior to the mediation date. Every mediator is different, and each may have different rules on continuations, deadlines, settlement, or mediation procedures.
Finally the parties will attend mediation at the scheduled time and place. Whether the case settles or not, the mediator will usually submit statements describing the events at mediation. Furthermore, the Court must be notified of settlement or non-settlement. If the case does not settle, the parties will likely continue to proceed with the case and go to trial if necessary.
For more information regarding mediation in San Francisco, you can check out the Courts alternative dispute resolution package here.