We're happy to answer any questions that you may have about our services, and to direct you to authoritative sources as required.  Here are answers to some of our most commonly asked questions:

Q.    Why should we consider mediation?

Although every case is unique, as long as a dispute is civil and does not involve criminal matters, mediation can be a viable form of dispute resolution.  Mediation is a voluntary process in which a neutral, third-party (the mediator) helps disputants negotiate a settlement out-of-court. Our mediators employ widely accepted techniques in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to help the parties explore their perspectives and then solve their dispute.

Here are some of the key benefits to ADR:

    1. Confidentiality - all parties, including the mediator, are bound to keep all details of their case confidential.  This protects families, businesses, investors, and institutions from loss of reputation/trust, market value or competitive advantage.
    2. Timely - the court system can take months to years to resolve most disputes.  Mediation can take a few hours for simple cases, and typically 4-8 weeks for more complex cases, in order to reach a final, legally-binding settlement.   
    3. Less Expensive - we advise our clients to seek independent legal counsel before agreeing to a final settlement reach through mediation.  Including those legal fees, mediation is still significantly less costly than resolving disputes through litigation.
    4. Level Playing Field - parties don't always have the same ability to argue, manage stress, think quickly, understand the law, or avoid intimidation tactics.  Mediators are skilled at leveling these types of power imbalances, so that the negotiation is not dominated by either party.
    5. Risk Management - surrendering one's fate to a judge is always risky.  Mediation ensures that parties always maintain control of their ultimate settlement, by providing them the opportunity to negotiate an acceptable outcome to their dispute instead of trying to convince a judge to rule in their favour.
    6. Equity - there is no winner or loser in mediation, since it is a process designed to result in an equitable, durable and honourable outcome for both parties.
    7. Preservation of Common Interests - litigation positions the parties in adversarial positions, whereas mediation recentres the parties around common interests (e.g., the long-term preservation of investment/business interests, the welfare of children, the harmony of a family/community, or the reputation of an institution).
    8. Not Prejudicial -  parties always have the option of terminating mediation and going to court at anytime.  The process of trying to mediate first will not adversely impact your case in court in any way.  There is nothing to lose - and much to gain - by attempting to mediate before resorting to litigation.

Q.    Is a mediated settlement legally-binding?

Yes, once both parties have agreed to their terms of settlement in writing, it becomes legally-binding.  Failure to comply with the negotiated terms of settlement is a breach of contract, which is enforceable by law.  [Note: until there is a signed, written settlement agreement, no aspect of the mediation is legally-binding, or prejudicial to a court-based outcome.]

Q.    How do I know mediation is suitable for my situation?

Consider your various options and ask your lawyer for his/her opinion, and consider whether the other party(ies) to your dispute will agree to mediation.   In our experience, parties become increasingly motivated to mediate once they understand the actual cost and risk associated with resolving their dispute through litigation.  Of course, there are many situations when mediation will not work (e.g., when there are threats or violence, when parties are expecting an outright victory over each other, when parties are unable negotiate with each other respectfully and within a common ethical framework, etc.)

Our experts will advise parties whether mediation may be appropriate to their situation during the initial, complimentary consultation.

Q.   What if the other party doesn't want to mediate?

In most cases mediation is voluntary. Mediation tends to work best when all parties are willing to participate, so:

    • have a conversation or write an email to the other party acknowledging you have a dispute that could use some help;
    • let them know you would like to try mediation;
    • tell them mediation is quick, ensures full control of any outcome, is cost effective, and private; and,
    • remind them that you are committed to working with them to find a resolution.

If you have started a case with the Supreme Court you can serve the other person with a Notice to Mediate. If you have started a case with Provincial Court Small Claims, you can serve them with a Notice to Mediate for claims between $10,000 and $35,000. The Notice to Mediate requires the people involved in the conflict to attend mediation. If the other party does not attend mediation, you can file an Allegation of Default or Declaration of Default with the court.

Q.    How much does mediation cost?

We do not charge for the initial consultation with each party, and will provide a cost estimate based upon your specific requirements for mediation.  If the parties agree to mediate,  we will request a deposit ("retainer") to begin the mediation process.   Although we normally host mediations at our offices in North Vancouver or online via Zoom, we can travel at-cost if institutional clients prefer to host sessions at their meeting facilities.

Q.    What are some of the key benefits of mediation?

    1. It gives the parties control of the outcome. Unlike a court-based outcome, mediation helps parties to move from opposing positions to some middle-ground.  Parties search for their own unique solution - instead of entrusting a judge to impose a solution upon them - through a process of good-faith negotiation that is led by a highly-skilled mediator.
    2. It can be initiated and completed in a few days or weeks, and at a cost that is a small fraction of the price of going to court. Parties can mediate by phone, online or in person with their mediator.
    3. It is completely confidential.  So, while the court process can damage the reputation of individuals, families, businesses and institutions, the process of mediation is entirely private.  No aspect of a dispute or final agreement is made public. 
    4. If an agreement is achieved through mediation, it becomes legally-binding and is enforceable through the courts. All parties are required to honour the commitments if the mediation ends successfully.
    5. It protects trade secrets, including valuable intellectual property (IP). This is critical in scientific and commercial disputes, since if a case is resolved through litigation the sensitive IP could become part of the public record - enabling competitors to exploit that knowledge.
    6. It addresses power imbalances between the parties.  A skilled mediator can "level the playing field" between parties to reduce wealth, knowledge, or size disadvantages.
    7. It preserves – and sometimes even enhances – the relationship between the parties. This can be critical when other individuals, property or institutional partnerships need to be protected from the negative consequences of a dispute.  


These are just some of the many reasons why mediation may be beneficial.