Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process involving a meeting between the parties, their representatives and a mediator to discuss settlement. A mediator is an impartial, neutral third person who helps the parties settle their dispute amicably, without litigation. Importantly, the mediator is not a judge and has no power to decide the case. Mediation leaves the power to settle entirely with the parties.
Each mediator has his or her own style. Many mediators alter their approach to fit the needs of a given dispute. At the beginning, the mediator typically may seek agreement from the parties to forbear from litigation during the mediation process. The mediation process typically starts with a joint meeting with all parties to discuss the case, define the issues and explore the views of the parties. This is followed by separate and joint meetings with the parties as appropriate.
Evaluative mediators rely on experience and substantive knowledge to predict possible outcomes were the matter to be decided in court, in order to help the parties achieve settlement. Facilitative mediators examine the interests of the parties and rely on persuasion to guide the parties to a settlement agreement. In either case, the mediator does not decide what would be a fair settlement, but instead leaves that to the parties.
The mediator may listen to each side’s settlement position confidentially to see if there is overlap creating a zone for possible settlement. The mediator may then reveal whether it appears or does not appear the parties are within a range where settlement is possible.
In all forms of mediation, the goal is for the parties to reach a settlement agreement. Mediation is highly recommended where the parties have an ongoing relationship to maintain as it is a conciliatory process, unlike litigation.
The MAA’s Role
The MAA is the administrator of the mediation process. Our role is to make sure the mediation process moves promptly according to the agreed rules. We provide the parties with suggested mediators, coordinate the selection process, and keep the case moving along. We answer the parties’ procedural questions and make arrangements for the mediation.
The MAA has designed its mediation process to be prompt, fair and efficient. MAA mediation uses simple filing documents, clear and few rules, and easy scheduling. MAA mediation can be conducted on an expedited basis using time limitations appropriate to the type of case and amount in controversy.
The MAA arbitration process serves the maritime community’s need for specialized alternative dispute resolution services, conducted fairly, efficiently and promptly.