Agreement to Mediate
This bulletin provides general information concerning mediation of disputes. For additional information that is specific to mediation of family disputes, you should also see the bulletin called Family Mediation.
Once the parties to a dispute have selected a mediator, the mediator and all the parties will sign a written agreement outlining the terms on which the mediation will proceed. A draft copy is usually given to the parties by the mediator before the first mediation session. It is often signed after the parties have agreed to mediate but before the first meeting. Alternatively, it might be signed at the beginning of the first mediation session.
Each mediator is likely to have his or her own preferred form of agreement, but all agreements should contain some common provisions. Typically, an agreement will include a brief description of the process, the neutral and impartial role of the mediator, the subject matter of the dispute, and the objective of reaching a collaborative resolution.
The agreement should be reviewed before it is signed to ensure that the following matters have been adequately dealt with:
- Confidentiality – The agreement should provide that information acquired and admissions made during the mediation process cannot be used in court, and that the mediator cannot be required to testify. Confidentiality in mediation means that you can speak freely; it will not prejudice your case if it goes to court.
Sometimes during mediation, the mediator will meet with the parties separately. Therefore, the agreement should also clarify whether or not the mediator is free to share information disclosed by one party with the other party.
- Full disclosure – A clause requiring full and frank disclosure of all relevant information and all relevant documents is central to the agreement. Depending on the nature of the case, it might be desirable to have a specific term agreeing to the exchange of summary reports and all relevant documents seven or 10 days before mediation is scheduled to begin.
- Fees and costs – The agreement will retain and instruct the mediator, specify the mediator's fee, identify other possible charges and clarify who pays. Experienced, legally trained mediators usually charge hourly rates running from $150.00 to $200.00 per hour, although a few are outside this range. You may also find that rates are negotiable, and that daily rates are available.
- Role of legal counsel – Most agreements suggest that parties either have legal counsel involved in the mediation, or recognize that they have the option of obtaining independent legal advice before committing to an agreement. The opportunity to obtain independent legal advice is very important if parties attend mediation without legal counsel.
- Ending mediation – A clause stating that the mediation may be ended at any time by any party, or by the mediator, is common. This confirms the voluntary nature of the process.
Sample agreement to mediate
A sample agreement to mediate is available here.
For More Information
For more information contact the Dispute Resolution Office.
For names of mediators in your area, contact the Mediate BC Society.