Beginning mediation

Start by seeing if the other side is open to using mediation to settle the dispute.

Mediation is not always well understood so don’t be surprised if the other people involved in the dispute seem hesitant to try it.

If that is the case, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Propose mediation and send them a link to this website so they can learn more about it.
  2. If you are receiving a lawyer's advice, tell them of your interest in mediation and have them propose it to the other side. If you have a case in the BC Supreme Court, ask about the Notice to Mediate.
  3. Ask a mediator to inform everyone in the dispute of the benefits of mediation and encourage them to take part.
  4. Contact the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of British Columbia or other mediation organizations for the names of mediators.

Agreement to mediate

Once there is a decision to try mediation, everyone involved in the dispute must decide on a mediator together.

The mediator and everyone involved in the dispute will then sign an agreement to mediate which specifies how mediation will proceed.

Mediators often have their own preferred agreements, but they all likely contain common provisions, including:

  • Who the participants will be
  • A general statement describing the problem
  • A description of the process
  • A statement about the mediator's impartiality
  • A goal of reaching a collaborative solution

Here are some other important parts to a mediation agreement and how they are commonly addressed:

  1. Confidentiality – What you say in mediation will not prejudice your case if it goes to court. It also means the mediator will not testify in court. Original documents provided to support what you say, may be later be used in court.

Sometimes the mediator will meet with the parties separately. The agreement should spell out whether the mediator can share information disclosed in these meetings with other parties to the dispute.

  1. Full disclosure – Everyone involved in the dispute must share all relevant information and documents with one another. It might be desirable to specify that disclosure is to happen seven or 10 days before mediation is scheduled to begin.
  2. Fees and costs – Specifies the mediator's fee and other charges, and provides information about who pays. Rates may be negotiable and daily rates are sometimes available.
  3. Role of legal counsel – People involved in the dispute either have legal counsel involved in the mediation or have the option of obtaining independent legal advice before committing to an agreement. The opportunity to get independent legal advice is important if parties attend mediation without legal counsel.
  4. Ending mediation – Any party to the agreement or the mediator may end the mediation at any time.