A mediation session involves the mediator, the parties and the attorneys for the parties. The mediator may discuss the mediation process with both of their attorneys prior to the mediation. Such discussions with attorneys will not be negotiations and must involve both attorneys directly. At the beginning of the mediation session, the attorneys will have the choice of whether the participants start in one conference or split into different rooms with each party and their attorney together as the mediator holds discussions in each room. The mediator will move between the rooms in an attempt to facilitate a resolution of all issues. The parties understand that the mediator must remain impartial throughout the mediation. If the parties reach an agreement, a consent order, a separation agreement or a memorandum of mediated settlement, whichever document is appropriate, shall be prepared by the mediator and signed by all parties before the end of the mediation.
In 1991, the General Assembly authorized a pilot program of pre-trial, court-ordered mediated settlement conferences for civil cases filed in Superior Court. The new program was charged with facilitating the settlement of superior court civil actions and with making civil litigation more economical, efficient, and satisfactory to litigants and the public.
The pilot program operated through October of 1995. After studying the program and determining that it met the goals established for it, the General Assembly adopted a statute authorizing statewide expansion of the Mediated Settlement Conference Program. The goals the General Assembly set for the pilot program were carried forward in the legislation establishing the permanent program.
In November, 2002, the Program's Rules were revised to establish a dispute resolution process in superior courts statewide. With the establishment of the procedures, parties were free to select among a number of dispute resolution processes to which their case could be referred including: mediated settlement, neutral evaluation, arbitration, and summary jury trial. If the parties fail to select one of the other options, mediated settlement conferences remain the default procedure.
The parties will each pay one-half of the mediator’s fee for all time spent in the mediation, travel, any necessary pre- or post-mediation matters and any expenses connected with the mediation. They will also pay a one-time administrative fee of $200.00 to handle pre-mediation matters, including scheduling the mediation session. It is expected that the parties’ mediation may last a full day. If the mediation is cancelled, the parties shall pay a cancellation fee of $275.00. The parties' payments for the mediation shall be made at the end of the mediation session.
The parties are encouraged to discuss the process of mediation with their attorneys and the goals they wish to achieve before the mediation session. The parties and their attorneys, with the mediator’s assistance, shall determine the scope of the mediation at the beginning of the session. The parties should understand that the mediator must remain impartial throughout the mediation.
In order to create a climate of open and honest communications, necessary for a successful mediation, the parties agree that all written and oral communications made during the course of mediation are confidential except as agreed between the parties, their attorneys and the mediator. Any offer of settlement or compromise during mediation is inadmissible as evidence pursuant to Rule 408 of the North Carolina Rules of Evidence. Neither party shall call the mediator to testify concerning any statements made or documents shown during the course of mediation, including the notes and records of the mediator. In the event that either party violates this provision, the mediator will move to strike the subpoena.
Notwithstanding the above provisions:
The parties agree to enter into mediation in good faith, with each party making full disclosure of all information necessary to facilitate the negotiations and mediation of an agreement to resolve all issues. The parties also shall agree that, should any mistake or misstatement occur during the course of the mediation that would have a substantial impact on the outcome of the process, it shall be brought to the attention of the mediator immediately so that no one may take advantage of a significant error made by the other side.
Mediation conferences will be conducted according to the Rules Governing Mediated Settlement Conferences (N.C.G.S. 7a-38):
Hourly Rate . . . . ... .. . . . . $ 275.00/hour
Pursuant to Rule 7.F of the Mediation Rules, the Mediation Fee is due at the conclusion of the Mediation. Unless otherwise agreed upon, each party shall pay a proportionate share of the cost. Statements for services will be delivered at the conclusion of the mediation. Each attorney should advise their client that they should be prepared to pay his/her portion of the mediator’s fee at the conclusion of the mediation or collect money in their trust account sufficient to cover their client's portion of the fee. We make this request in an effort to eliminate the need for additional administrative expenses in subsequent collection efforts.
The mediator is always willing to receive an advance copy of pleadings or other pertinent documents that the parties or their attorneys feel will assist the mediator in conducting a successful mediation.
I guarantee you diligence and efficiency in resolving your case, and I will give each case my best professional effort.
Thank you very much!