Dispute Resolution Mediators
Typically C. A. Services acts as an informal mediator at the request of either the Owner or the Contractor. It is always best to conduct an impartial review of both positions as soon as possible. It is also essential to get agreement from both parties that they will work together to resolve the issues at hand.
Whether formal or informal, a mediation hearing/meeting should take place as soon as practical. The mediation process involves six distinct stages:
· Mediator’s Opening Statement
After both parties are seated at the table, the mediator introduces everyone, explains the goals and guidelines of the process, and encourages each side to work cooperatively toward resolution.
· Each Party’s Opening Statement
Each party is allowed to state, in its own way, what the dispute is, how it has affected them, and their proposed resolution. While one party is talking the other party is not allowed to interrupt.
· Joint Discussions
The mediator facilitates discussions between both parties to discuss what was said in the opening statements. During the joint discussion the points of dispute are discussed and any partial agreements are noted, as are issues that still need to be addressed.
· Private Caucuses
Generally considered the “guts” of mediation, the private caucus is a chance for each party to meet privately with the mediator to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their position. Each party is also asked to propose new ideas for settlement. The mediator may caucus each party just once or several times as required to develop a mutual solution.
· Joint Negotiation
After the caucuses, the parties come back together to jointly work out the final points of a settlement.
At the end of the mediation process the mediator puts the main provisions and agreements reached in writing as both parties listen and provide input. The mediator may ask each side to sign the written summary or suggest that they take it to their lawyer for review. If a total agreement has been reached, an agreement can immediately be written and signed making it a legally binding document if desired.
If no agreement was reached, the mediator will review whatever progress has been made and advise everyone of their options, such as meeting again later, going to arbitration, or going to court.