Alternative Dispute Resolution
As a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution or “ADR,” mediation in Houston has become more common in recent decades as a method of resolving disputes in civil litigation matters. It is commonly used during the litigation process to resolve pending lawsuits but can also be used before litigation begins to avoid the litigation process.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a non-binding, confidential process whereby opposing parties meet with a trained mediator in an attempt to settle their dispute and avoid further litigation expenses. If the parties do not reach an agreement settling the dispute, they continue with the lawsuit process where they left off.
What is a Mediator?
Certified mediators are individuals who have undertaken a certified 40-hour mediation course conducted by an accredited institution. They act as unbiased facilitators of the settlement process. They must not take sides or show any bias in the mediation. Michael P. Fleming is a certified mediation and obtained his certification at the University of Houston College of Law AA White Institute. He has conducted hundreds of mediations – both as the mediator and representing his clients in mediation sessions.
How Does the Mediation Process Work?
At the beginning of a mediation, both sides usually meet together with the mediator in one room. This is an opportunity for the lawyers or parties to explain their position to the mediator and address the other side directly. The mediator then explains the process and separates the parties into different conference rooms. The mediator then gets to work meeting with each side separately attempting to find common ground and fashion a resolution to the dispute that is agreeable to all. The parties usually do not see their opponents again for the rest of the day. If no resolution is reached in the mediation, the lawsuit continues in the court.
What About Confidentiality?
If instructed by one party not to disclose certain facts to the other side, the mediator must abide by those instructions. Moreover, the mediator cannot reveal any confidential information to the court or third party if asked to keep it secret.
There are very important considerations about mediation confidentiality that parties must know about. Anything you say during mediation cannot be repeated by the other side outside of the mediation room such as in court. For instance, a party cannot mention in court that the other party made an admission or statement during the mediation process. However, a party is free to use information discovered in the mediation process to develop their case. For instance, if one party mentions the name of a new witness to an incident, the other party cannot repeat that statement but certainly could use that information to contact the witness and subpoena them for trial.
If you have questions regarding the mediation process or need to go to mediation, contact civil litigation lawyer and certified mediator Michael P. Fleming by phone at (713) 221-6800 or fill out our contact form today.