When a Judge Orders One Mediation Session/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on January 13, 2020


It is very rare that one mediation session will lead to a final agreement. Why then do judges sometimes order that a party attend one mediation session? There are actually a few benefits from such a modest order:

1. Sometimes lightening strikes at a mediation session and the parties are so pleased with their progress they decide to continue until a resolution to the dispute is found.
2. Even at a unitary session, it is still possible that some issues will indeed be resolved. Half a pie is better than none.
3. By meeting face to face, the adversaries have broken the ice. Future discussions are more likely to be civil and perhaps even dignified.
4. Mediation is a foreign concept to many parties. While the order to attend one session may be judged by a party to be “heavy-handed”, there is a hope that the parties will eventually give mediation a new look-see, even with no Order staring them in the face.

Mediation works best when the parties both invest in the process. There are times however where adults (i.e. judges) have to control the tempo. Far better to have a mediation session than to never even consider the possibility. Sometimes, in life, when all else fails, wisdom and practicality do take over.

Mediate don’t litigate.