Court Annexed Mediation
The Process and advantages
The advantage of court annexed mediation is that the judges, lawyers and litigants become participants therein, thereby giving to them a feeling that negotiated settlement is achieved by all the three actors in justice delivery system.
Court-annexed mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that takes place within the court system. It offers parties an opportunity to resolve their disputes outside of traditional litigation through the assistance of a trained mediator. Here is a description of court-annexed mediation proceedings:
Initiation: Court-annexed mediation typically begins with a request or referral from the court. This may occur at various stages of the litigation process, such as during the pretrial conference, at the request of one or both parties, or by court order. Parties are informed about the option of mediation and provided with details about the process.
Mediator Selection: A mediator is assigned to the case either by the court or through a mediator selection process. The mediator is an impartial third party who facilitates the mediation proceedings and assists the parties in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution.
Pre-Mediation Preparation: Prior to the mediation session, the mediator may request parties to submit certain documents, such as pleadings, relevant evidence, or position statements. This helps the mediator gain an understanding of the case and allows for a more focused and efficient mediation process.
Mediation Session: The mediation session takes place in a neutral and private setting, often outside the formal courtroom. The mediator sets the ground rules and ensures that all participants have an opportunity to express their views. The mediator guides the discussion, encourages effective communication, and helps parties identify common interests and potential solutions.
Confidentiality: Court-annexed mediation proceedings are generally confidential. Parties are encouraged to speak openly and honestly during the mediation session, as the information shared cannot be used against them in subsequent court proceedings.
Voluntary Nature: Participation in court-annexed mediation is usually voluntary, although it may be mandatory in some jurisdictions. Parties have the choice to engage in the process and can withdraw at any time if they believe mediation is not suitable or productive for their case.
Mediation Outcome: If the parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement during the mediation session, it is typically documented in a written settlement agreement. This agreement may be binding and enforceable as a court order, depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the dispute. If an agreement is not reached, the case may proceed to further litigation.
Judicial Oversight: In court-annexed mediation, the court maintains oversight of the proceedings. The court may be involved in monitoring the progress of the mediation, receiving updates from the mediator, and incorporating the mediated settlement into the final judgment or order, if applicable.
Court-annexed mediation provides parties with an opportunity to actively participate in the resolution of their disputes, potentially saving time, costs, and the adversarial nature of litigation. It offers a collaborative and less formal environment for parties to communicate, explore options, and craft solutions that meet their interests. By encouraging settlement and reducing the burden on the court system, court-annexed mediation plays a vital role in promoting access to justice and facilitating efficient dispute resolution.
When a judge refers a case to the court annexed mediation service, keeping overall supervision on the process, no one would feel that the system parts with the case. The Judge would feel that he refers the case to a mediator within the system. The same lawyers who appear in a case retain their briefs and continue to represent their clients before the mediators within the same set-up. The litigants feel that they are given an opportunity to play their own participatory role in the resolution of disputes. This will also give a larger public acceptance for the process as the same time tested court system, which has acquired public confidence because of integrity and impartiality, retains its control and provides an additional service. The court is the parental institution for resolution of disputes and if ADR models are directed under court’s supervision, at least in those cases which are referred through courts, the effort of dispensing justice can become more coordinated. ADR services under the control, guidance and supervision of the court would have more authenticity and smooth acceptance. It would ensure the feeling that mediation is complimentary and not competitive with the court system. The system will get a positive and willing support from the judges who will accept mediators as an integral part of the system. If reference to mediation is made by the judge to the court annexed mediation services, the mediation process will become more expeditious and harmonized. It will also facilitate the movement of the case between the court and the mediator faster and purposeful. Again, it will facilitate reference of some issues to mediation leaving others for trial in appropriate cases. Court annexed mediation will give a feeling that court’s own interest in reducing its caseload to manageable level is furthered by mediation and therefore reference to mediation will be a willing reference. Court annexed mediation will thus provide additional tool by the same system providing continuity to the process, and above all, court will remain a central institution for the system. This will also establish a public- private partnership between the court and the community. A popular feeling that court works hand-in-hand with mediation facility will produce satisfactory and faster settlements.
Explore the Equa services when the mediators are appointed by Courts.