If you are considering using mediation to resolve your dispute, you may wonder how it is different from going to court in The Bahamas. The differences are many, so you should be aware of what you gain and what you give up when you choose mediation.
Private versus Public Forum
A key difference between mediation and court is that mediation is a private negotiation among the parties, while court is a public arena for legal disputes. When you go to court, your case and name become part of the public record. Much of the background information about your case will be available to the public. News outlets may even cover your case if it is high profile.
In contrast, mediation usually happens in a single day in a private location. You may meet in an office or conference room, and the time and location of your meeting will not be publicly advertised. Most mediators require the parties to agree that everything discussed at the mediation is confidential. As a result, your private disputes can remain private.
Decision Binding on the Parties?
When a court makes a decision, it is legally binding on the parties. In other words, if you get a judgment for money damages against someone, you can enforce that judgment to receive payment. In a mediation, you may reach a resolution that is not legally binding (yet). For example, you could agree on a settlement of the claims and put the settlement in writing. But if the person required to pay money under the settlement agreement does not pay, then you may need to go to court to enforce the agreement.
A Less Adversarial Situation
When you file a lawsuit, your relationship to the other party becomes “you versus them”. It is an adversarial relationship, often made worse by lack of opportunities to communicate. A mediation is different. The mediator's job is to put the parties at ease. He or she helps the parties communicate better and works to bring them together in agreement.