When your business has a dispute with another party, you may have good reason to want some privacy. Even if you did nothing wrong, the optics of the dispute can sometimes be bad for business. You may also be worried about any proprietary information you have somehow becoming public knowledge.
So, how confidential is the mediation process, anyhow? Here’s what you need to know:
It’s a big shield, but it’s not absolute
Confidentiality is key to the mediation process, but its scope can sometimes be unclear. It’s important to discuss confidentiality with your mediator before you commit to the process just so that you are certain exactly what rules they follow.
In general, it’s also important to remember that there are some statutory exceptions to confidentiality in mediation that can apply. These include situations where:
- A criminal case arises and disclosures are necessary for prosecution
- It becomes necessary to show that mediated settlement was procured through fraud or coercion
- It is required to show that a settlement agreement exists or to establish its terms
- Sanctions or discipline is warranted against counsel involved in the proceedings
In addition, you also need to keep in mind that you’re not in mediation by yourself. The other party is also there. That means that it’s critical to have a signed agreement in place between you that ensures confidential information will stay that way. Each party is then responsible for making sure that their representatives comply with that agreement.
Mediation is an incredibly effective tool for companies that want to resolve their disputes with other companies without all the negatives of litigation. If you’re interested in handling a conflict through mediation, it may be time to discuss the specifics of your case with someone who can help.