Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Will I be expected to attend and actively participate in discussions at the mediated settlement conference?
A: You must attend unless all the parties and the mediator or the court agree otherwise. The mediation process is designed to empower litigants to take a more active role in discussion and settling their case. However, some litigants prefer to let their attorney speak for them. You may want to discuss your participation with your attorney prior to mediation. Because mediation is an informal proceeding, you will not be sworn in or asked to testify about any matter in the case.
Q: Will my attorney be with me throughout the conference and will I be able to speak privately with my attorney if I need to?
A: Yes. Your attorney will be present throughout the proceeding. If at some point during the conference you wish to speak privately with your attorney, you can ask the mediator for an opportunity to do so.
Q: How much will mediation costs?
A: If you, the other party, and the attorneys involved in your case agree upon a certified mediator and notify the court of your selection, the mediator’s fee will be arrived at by agreement with the mediator. If you cannot agree, the court will appoint a certified mediator. Rule 7.B of the North Carolina Supreme Court Rules implementing the Mediated Settlement Conference Program provides for court-appointed mediators to be compensated at the rate of $150.00 per hour for mediation services plus a $150.00 one time, per case administrative fee for scheduling. Unless otherwise agreed or ordered by the court, the fee will be paid in equal shares by the parties and is due at the conclusion of mediation.
Q: Who mediates and how are mediators trained?
A: You, the other party or parties, and your attorneys will be given an opportunity to choose a certified mediator to conduct your mediated settlement conference. All certified mediators have completed at least 40 hours of mediation training and met the other educational and training requirements necessary for certification. Many certified mediators are experienced attorneys licensed to practice law in North Carolina. There are also certified non-attorney mediators with significant professional or mediation experience.
Q: What if I prefer to go to trial and do not want to mediate my case?
A: Once your case has been ordered to mediated settlement, you and your attorney must participate. However, if you believe there is some compelling reason why your case should not be mediated, you may ask the Court to exempt it. Do not be too quick to reject the mediation process. Even in cases where the parties seem hopelessly at odds, a skillful mediator can sometimes find a way to get opposing parties thinking and talking about ways to resolve their dispute.
Q: Where will my mediated settlement conference be held?
A: Your conference may be held in a public building, in the law office of one of the attorneys involved in the case, or in your mediator’s office. If you are I wheelchair or have other accessibility issues, let your mediator know. Regardless of where your mediation is held, the proceeding will be private and not open to the public.
Q: What if am unwilling to agree to the terms discussed at the mediation?
A: Not every case can be settled and you will not be forced into an agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, your case will proceed to trial in due course. Since mediation proceedings are confidential, neither the judge nor jury will be informed about the particulars of your mediation or told why the case did not settle.
Q: What if I have a complaint about the mediator’s conduct?
A: You can address your concerns to the mediator in the hope that any misunderstandings can be resolved amicably. You or your attorney may also file a complaint with the Dispute Resolution Commission. The Commission may be contacted at (919) 890-1415.