About Mediation

What is mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process where a neutral third-party (the mediator), helps parties in conflict come together to talk and decide how to resolve their dispute. The mediator does not take sides or make decisions for the parties. The mediator enables and empowers the parties to reach an agreement that they both can live with.

How does mediation work?

At the mediation, the mediator will give both parties an opportunity to express their point of view in a safe, comfortable environment. In most cases, the parties and the mediator will initially be in the same room. At different times throughout the mediation process, the mediator may meet with each party privately while the other party waits outside. The private meetings allow the parties to share information with the mediator and come up with and test possible solutions and ideas with the mediator, before presenting them to the other party.

The mediator will try to help the parties reach an agreement that is fair and acceptable to both parties. The mediator serves as a guide for the process, while the parties create the agreement.

What does it mean that the mediation is confidential?

It means that whatever you say in mediation (whether it is when you and the mediator are talking alone, or when you and the other party are talking with the mediator), will not be repeated outside the mediation by the mediator. If the mediation is not successful and you go to court, the mediator cannot be subpoenaed or required to testify in court, nor can any/all records or paperwork from the Center be used in the Court proceeding.

What does it mean that the mediation is voluntary?

It means that both parties must agree to mediate. If one party does not want to participate, then the mediation cannot occur. Either party may end the mediation at any time, for any reason.

What if I don’t want to settle in mediation?

That is your choice. The mediator will not tell you what to do. If you and the other party are unable to come up with an agreement in mediation, then you can take other action such as filing a Claim in Court (or return to court if you have already initiated a Complaint) or initiate arbitration.

What if the other party does not agree to mediate?

If you would like to mediate, the Case Manager or mediator (depending on where you initiate the mediation), will encourage the other party to agree to participate. However, mediation is a voluntary process, and no one will be required to mediate.

What are the advantages of mediation?

Mediation gives you and the other party the chance to resolve the dispute yourselves. Most people are more satisfied with resolutions that they develop themselves, than those that are imposed on them. You can resolve your claim in mediation in much less time than it would take to complete an investigation and get a decision in the regular process.

In general, mediation is less costly and faster than arbitration or litigation.

Should I bring an attorney to the mediation?

You may bring your attorney to the mediation, but counsel is not required. Usually only the disputing parties and the mediator are present at the mediation session to encourage conversation between the parties themselves and minimize the adversarial nature of the dispute. If an agreement is reached and put in writing, you can take the agreement to your attorney for review before signing it. You may also contact your attorney via telephone at any time during the mediation.

Should I bring witnesses to support my case?

No. There are no witnesses or judges at a mediation session. Generally, only the disputing parties and the mediator are present at the mediation. The purpose of the mediation is not to determine who is right or wrong. Instead, the purpose is for the parties to talk with each other and to work out a mutually acceptable agreement to settle the dispute.

Who are the mediators?

The Mediation Center of the Pacific and the Community Mediation Centers on the neighbor islands, provide trained volunteer mediators. These mediators have completed specialized training and have significant mediation experience. The mediators are assigned by the Case Managers according to the issues in the dispute and the training of the mediator.

What is the difference between mediation and arbitration?

Although less formal, arbitration is similar to court. In arbitration, both sides present their positions to the arbitrator, including witnesses and evidence, and the arbitrator then makes a decision. In mediation, the mediator does not render a decision. Instead, the mediator facilitates communication between the parties and helps them come up with ideas that will resolve the situation. Any agreement that arises out of a mediation is mutually decided and agreed upon by the parties themselves.