Mediation is a voluntary non binding negotiation process by which an impartial neutral assists in resolving a dispute between two or more parties. It is a non-adversarial approach to conflict resolution. The role of the Mediator is to facilitate communication between the parties, assist them in focusing on the real issues of the dispute, and generate options that meet the interests or needs of all relevant parties in an effort to resolve the conflict and find a mutually agreeable solution.
Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) is a relatively short, informal, non-binding and confidential procedure that encourages litigants in civil cases to settle disputes before they have committed significant time and money to fight their cases. Parties may enter ENE voluntarily or be referred (or even ordered) to it by the court. In ENE session, the parties and their attorneys meet before an agreed upon neutral. After both sides make their case the neutral asks questions and the disputants may question each other. The neutral presents his/her analysis of key issues, offers an opinion on how the case would fare in court, suggests ways to bridge the gap between parties and offers to facilitate a settlement. Similar to mediation, regardless of its outcome, ENE helps narrow issues and gives litigants a more realistic view of their chances in court. It also keeps all discussions and recommendations confidential.
A hybrid of mediation and arbitration, med-arb is designed for parties hoping to reach a mutually acceptable settlement with the help of a neutral hearing officer, but who agree to be bound by the neutral's decision, should they be unsuccessful in reaching a settlement. The hearing officer begins the process as traditional mediation, but if settlement is not achieved, the parties must proceed to present any remaining issues to the mediator-turned-arbitrator who will, after closing arguments, take the matter under submission. This format is designed as an incentive to be reasonable, and settle, in the mediation phase and/or after a short cooling-down period, to once again attempt settlement before a binding decision is rendered.
Is a non-adjudicative process that, unlike its name, is really an evaluative mediation procedure. This process involves having your Neutral sit on a panel with non-legal party representatives from each side that have full Settlement Authority. The Neutral is the supervisor of the panel and after working with the parties before the hearing to facilitate agreements on procedure and certain disputes, he or she will moderate the hearing and offer an evaluation, if necessary. After an evaluation is offered, the Neutral then tries to facilitate a settlement. The theory behind this process is to treat the dispute more as a business problem than a matter for litigation.