Ansbacher Law attorneys are experienced in representing clients at mediation. We put the same effort into preparing for mediation as we do preparing for trial. We present our client’s case to the other side and advise our client throughout the process. If settlement terms are reached at mediation, our extensive contract experience allows us to assist our client in “buttoning down” the deal so that a poorly written settlement agreement does not resolve the first dispute only to result in another claim.
Mediation. Most contracts now require the parties to engage in mediation before resorting to arbitration. If you read the fine print, you will typically find a paragraph where the parties “voluntarily” waive their right to a jury trial. These provisions are typically enforced even when a consumer lacked the ability to truly negotiate the contract’s terms.
Mediation means a process where a neutral third person called a mediator acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties. It is an informal and non-adversarial process with the objective of helping the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement. In mediation, decision-making authority rests with the parties. The role of the mediator includes, but is not limited to, assisting the parties in identifying issues, fostering joint problem solving, and exploring settlement alternatives. Ansbacher Law has experience in mediating hundreds of disputes.
Mediation may be required by contract or by Florida Statutes before filing a lawsuit or arbitration claim. Parties often voluntarily choose to mediate as a cost effective and private way to resolve disputes. In almost all civil disputes brought in federal or Florida courts, the judge will require the parties to mediate prior to trial. Although the judge cannot require parties to settle, the judge maintains the authority to compel the parties to attend the mediation conference.
Mediation in Florida is governed by the Mediation Confidentiality and Privilege Act. The act applies to mediation conducted by agreement of the parties or required by the court unless the parties specifically opt out in writing. In general, the law prohibits any party participating in mediation, including the mediator, from disclosing anything communicated by another party at (and in some cases before) the mediation. This confidentiality requirement can be enforced by legal action,including equitable relief (an order from the court requiring compliance) and recovery of money damages. The party bringing a claim for violation of mediation confidentiality may also be able to recover the costs of mediation and their attorney’s fees incurred in bringing the enforcement action.
In most instances, mediation may be conducted by any person selected by the parties to the dispute. The Supreme Court of Florida, through the Dispute Resolution Center, offers certification for mediators in the areas of county court, family, circuit court, dependency, and appellate cases. Although most mediators are also attorneys, non-attorneys may also be certified through appropriate training and experience. Mediators who are certified by the Florida Supreme Court are bound by the ethical standards imposed by the Florida Supreme Court, in addition to the Mediation Confidentiality and Privilege Act.
In the context of homeowner association disputes, Florida Law, section 720.311 Florida Statutes, requires mediation of most disputes before a lawsuit is filed. Two notable exceptions to this requirement are challenges to the election of the board of directors and collection of assessments by the association. Ansbacher Law has experience in mediation of homeowner association vs. owner and owner vs. owner disputes.
Contact us at 904-737-4600 to schedule a consultation.