S O C A L   D R C   D I S P U T E   M E D I A T I O N   R E S O L U T I O N   G U I D E                                                                             

Parties who enter into mediation do not forfeit any legal rights or remedies. If the mediation process does not result in settlement, each side can continue to enforce their rights through appropriate court or tribunal procedures. However, if a settlement has been reached through mediation, legal rights and obligations are affected in differing degrees.

In some situations, the parties may only wish to have a memorandum or a moral force agreement put in place; these are often found in community mediations. In other instances, a more comprehensive deed of agreement is drafted and this deed serves to bring a legally binding situation. A mediated agreement may be registered with the court to make it legally binding and it is advisable to have a lawyer prepare the form or, at the very least, to obtain independent legal advice about the proposed terms of the agreement.

Mediation has opened the door for parties in conflict to resolve their differences through non-traditional judicial forums. Over the last few decades, mediation has brought to light the processes, or alternatives to litigation, that enable parties to resolve their differences without the high cost associated with litigation. Court systems are eager to introduce mandatory mediation as a means to meet their needs to reduce case loads and adversarial litigation, and participants who understand the empowerment of mediation to self-determine their own agreements are equally as eager to embrace mediation as an alternative to costly and potentially harmful litigation.

Recently, mediation has come under the spotlight and the watchful eye of many state legal systems for its ability to resolve party disputes, reduce court case loads, and reduce overall legal costs. Yet while parties enter into mediation intending to preserve their legal rights and remedies, mediation may result in these rights being directly or indirectly affected. Parties that have resolved their conflict through this voluntary process and settled on an agreement should seek legal advice if they are unsure of the consequences.

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