RESPONSIBILITIES REGARDING CONFIDENTIALITY
One of the hallmarks of mediation is that the process is strictly confidential. The mediator must inform the parties that communications between them during the intake discussions and the mediation process are to be private and confidential. In general, the information discussed can never be used as evidence in the event that the matter does not settle at mediation and proceeds to a court hearing.
It is considered common for parties entering into mediation to sign a mediation agreement document with the mediator. The parties therefore agree that it's a condition of being present or participating in the mediation and the document if necessary may be deemed confidential by virtue of the common law.
Confidentiality lies at the heart of mediation. It is imperative for parties to trust the process. Very few mediations will ever succeed unless the parties can communicate fully and openly without fear of compromising their case before the courts. Mediation confidentiality is seen as one of the key ingredients to encourage disputing parties to negotiate with each other in order to achieve a settlement of their dispute.
Organizations have often seen confidentiality as a reason to use mediation ahead of litigation, particularly when disputes arise in sensitive areas of their operation, or to avoid their affairs becoming publicized among business competitors, acquaintances or friends. Steps put in place during mediation to help ensure this privacy include:
- The mediation meeting is conducted behind closed doors.
- Outsiders can only observe proceedings with both parties consent.
- No recording of the transcript is kept.
- There is no external publicity on what transpired at the mediation.
There is no doubt confidentiality contributes to the success and integrity of the mediation process. However it will be difficult for a mediator to guarantee full confidentiality protection between the parties.
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