Common Questions About Civil Mediation
Retired judge Robert Ruehlman served on the Hamilton County Ohio Court of Common Pleas for 36 years. Now, he has founded Robert Ruehlman Mediation to serve Cincinnati and central and southeastern Ohio as a civil mediator. He knows that if you are considering mediation, there are a lot of questions you might have. Here, he answers some of the more frequently asked questions about mediation.
What is the main purpose of mediation?
The purpose of mediation is to give parties a chance to resolve their conflicts and disputes as an alternative to going through the time and expense of a trial. Mediation also allows the parties to collaborate on solutions and actively participate in solving their problems together. When parties contribute to the resolution and solution, they are more likely to stick to the agreed-upon terms of the settlement.
What’s the difference between arbitration and mediation?
Arbitration and mediation are both forms of alternative dispute resolution. However, with arbitration, the parties submit evidence to a neutral decision-maker who decides the final outcome based on the facts and evidence, similar to a trial. Decisions from arbitrators are binding, and parties have to abide by the results just as they would if a judge had ruled on the case.
If my contract has an arbitration clause, does that mean I cannot go to mediation?
No. A lot of commercial agreements and contracts between parties include an arbitration clause. Most arbitration clauses in a contract discuss an agreement to go to arbitration in lieu of litigating conflicts in the court system. But that does not necessarily mean that parties cannot attempt to mediate their conflicts before going to arbitration. Mediation is a non-binding form of alternative dispute resolution, which means that if the parties cannot come up with a settlement agreement, they can still go to court.
Do I have to have an attorney represent me at mediation?
No. Attorneys are not required at mediation, though most persons involved in a dispute are usually represented by counsel who attend the mediation with them, though this is not a requirement.
What do I need to do to prepare for mediation?
Prior to mediation, it is a good idea to organize your thoughts and provide the mediator with any documentation that is important to your case. For example, if the parties are disagreeing about the terms of a contract, make sure that the mediator has a copy of the contract in advance. If you are attending mediation about a car accident, then it will be important to bring a summary of your medical expenses. It is also important to spend some time thinking about what you hope to accomplish in mediation. Ask yourself, what is non-negotiable and where are you willing to negotiate? Also, brainstorming creative ideas to solve the problems between you and the other party can be helpful. When you retain Attorney Ruehlman as a mediator, his office will send you or your attorney a detailed summary of the information he requests in advance of the mediation session.
What is the process for mediation in Ohio?
In Ohio, your mediator (or your attorney if you are using an attorney) will tell you in advance what to expect at mediation. Mediation usually begins with introductions and sometimes with each party making an informal opening statement. The parties may meet jointly to discuss ideas and allow the mediator to get an idea of what the issues are and where the parties stand on the issues. The mediator will also use breakout rooms to talk to each party individually if the mediator thinks that will be helpful in resolving the issues in the case. The goal of mediation is to reach a settlement agreement. Mediation will end with a closing that is usually a review of everything that has been agreed to by the parties. After mediation, the agreed-upon terms will be prepared as a formal settlement agreement for the parties to sign and submit to the court if required.
Do You Still Have Questions About Mediation? Contact A Cincinnati Mediation Firm.
Every civil case is different. Every conflict has unique facts or circumstances that make it unlike any other case. There can be a lot of questions. If you still have questions about the process of mediation, reach out through the firm’s website to schedule an appointment, or call the office at 513-721-1504.