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Friday, August 01, 2014
Saskatchewan Justice

What is mediation?

Mediation is a process where an impartial third party helps two or more parties discuss a dispute and work toward a solution that is acceptable to all parties. Participation is voluntary. Mediation is not a substitute for legal advice.  In most situations, it is still advisable to consult with a lawyer before and during the mediation process.  It is also advisable to have a lawyer review any written agreement before it is signed. Unlike a judge or arbitrator, the mediator does not decide the outcome of the dispute. Mediated agreements tend to succeed because they result from a process that allows parties to create their own solutions.

The mediator is a neutral third party whose goal is to create an environment where both parties can discuss the issues and explore potential options in a productive way. The mediator will not provide legal advice or make decisions for the parties.

All mediators have extensive training and experience in mediation and dispute resolution.

What are the benefits?

Dispute resolution can offer many benefits, including:

  • mutual satisfaction
  • effective results
  • enhanced communications between the parties
  • participants lead the process
  • efficient
  • confidential
  • broad range of disputes are resolved
  • cost-effective
  • improved parenting
  • tailor-made solutions to disputes

How can mediation be used?

Mediation works in situations where the parties are willing to participate in discussions aimed at resolving the dispute. It is particularly valuable when there is an on-going relationship among or between the parties.

Mediation can be used in many areas:

  • Commercial: Resolving debtor/creditor problems, partnership or company disputes, contract disputes, wrongful dismissal or other civil matters.
  • Family: Resolving issues of financial support for a spouse or children, parenting plans, division of matrimonial property and disputes regarding estates.
  • Organizational: Assisting organizations or workgroups through organizational change management, strategic planning events, and LEAN initiatives.
  • Victim/Offender: Working out agreements that satisfy the victim, while meeting the needs of the offender.
  • Public Policy/Environmental: Resolving expropriation and other land use disputes and issues regarding the development or implementation of public policy.
  • Community: Resolving neighbourhood disputes, zoning conflicts and community development issues.
  • School: Resolving teacher/student, teacher/parent and student/student disputes.
  • Cross-cultural: Resolving conflicts between or among participants from different cultures.

Types of mediation

Family mediation is a co-operative process used to resolve family disputes. It is used during times of family crisis, such as separation or divorce. Issues that may cause conflict, such as plans for children, division of property and financial arrangements, may be resolved through mediation.

Despite feelings of anger, fear and hurt, it is possible for families to negotiate an agreement that balances the interests of all family members. Mediation can be especially beneficial when children are involved.

Family mediation works best when family members are willing to participate in discussions aimed at resolving the dispute.

Some of the most common areas for family mediation are:

  • Separation and divorce: Resolving issues such as parenting, financial support for the spouse or children and division of matrimonial property.
  • Estates: Resolving issues among family members about splitting up a family partnership, the division of estate property or planning and decision-making for the care of elderly relatives.
  • Parent/teen conflicts: Resolving disputes between parents and teenagers about chores, rules, school work and curfews.

Civil mediation may assist you in seeking a solution to a civil dispute through the Court of Queen's Bench, you are required to attend a free-of-charge mediation session. At this session, a mediator helps the parties discuss their case and explore options for settlement.

The civil mediation program is available in Swift Current, Regina, Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Battleford and Yorkton.

At an early stage in the dispute, usually once the parties have filed their Statement of Claim and Statement of Defense, the court forwards the file to Saskatchewan Justice Dispute Resolution Office. You will receive a letter asking both parties to arrange a mutually-acceptable date, within the next three weeks, for the mediation session. Once the parties select a date, a mediator will be assigned.

At the mediation session, each party will meet individually with the mediator before the parties and the mediator meet as a group. The session usually takes two to three hours. You will have the opportunity to discuss your case with the other side and exchange information. This discussion may result in you and the other party negotiating a resolution to the dispute. Or the discussion may simply result in a better understanding of the issues and the options available to both parties.

After the session, the co-ordinator files a Certificate of Completion with the Court of Queen's Bench.

How to choose your mediator

Parties involved in a dispute choose the mediator. All participants must feel comfortable with the selection. You should have an overall sense of the mediator's ability to develop a rapport, be empathetic and remain impartial while conducting the mediation.

Some questions each party may consider when selecting a mediator are:

  • What is the mediator's education and employment history?
  • What type of mediation training has the mediator received?
  • What mediation experience does the mediator have? For example, commercial mediation, family mediation or multi-party?
  • Does the mediator belong to any professional associations?
  • Does the mediator have any other professional support?
  • Does the mediator adhere to a Code of Professional Conduct?
  • What is the mediator's view of your lawyer or other professionals such as accountants, counsellors or therapists?
  • Does the mediator co-mediate? If so, in what situations?
  • How much does the mediator charge and on what basis? How is travel, administrative and clerical time handled?
  • How long does the mediator expect the mediation to take? How long before the mediation can begin?
    Can the mediator provide references?

How to find a mediator

Here are some ways for you to find a mediator:

  • Ask friends or co-workers who have been to mediation to suggest a mediator.
  • Ask your lawyer to suggest a mediator.
  • Look in the Yellow Pages of your local telephone book.
  • Contact the ADR Institute of Saskatchewan at 1-866-596-7275 or visit ADR Connect, their online directory of mediators, at http://www.adrsaskatchewan.ca.
  • Contact Conflict Resolution Saskatchewan Inc. at 306-565-3939 and ask for a copy of their "Directory of Mediators" or visit their website at http://www.conflictresolutionsk.ca.

Fees

Private mediation  Fees for private mediators vary.  Be sure to ask about fees and other expenses before beginning the mediation process.

Saskatchewan Justice Dispute Resolution Office  Fee-for-service mediation is available from Saskatchewan Justice when dispute resolution is not available in your local area. Fees are based on your ability to pay. You will be assessed an individual rate per hour, based on your net monthly family income and the number of dependants you are supporting. The individual rate varies from $10 to $50 per hour per party. There is also a one-time fee for administration costs. Both the hourly rate and the administration fee are subject to the GST. Saskatchewan Justice is committed to providing affordable mediation in situations where a mediator is not available locally. Our priority is to provide service to people who may not otherwise be able to obtain dispute resolution services. When both parties to a potential mediation make more than a certain level of income, or where they are private corporations or businesses, we will refer the parties to mediators outside our offices.

For more information, please call:

  • in Regina (306) 787-5747 or
  • in Saskatoon (306) 933-7864

Financial assistance for mediation services

You may be able to get assistance with the costs of mediation if you are using the services of the Saskatchewan Legal Aid Commission or through your employer's Employee Assistance Program. Many Employee Assistance Programs do not cover mediation fees, while some may cover a portion of the fee.



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