The Mandatory Mediation Program was introduced in Ontario to provide those involved in a lawsuit with an alternative to the traditional court process. By using mandatory mediation, it is anticipated that the individuals and businesses involved in lawsuits will save both time and money. The Mandatory Mediation Program is used in the Superior Court of Justice and does not apply to Small Claims Court matters and some family law cases.
After the pleadings have been filed with the court, which include the Statement of Claim, the Statement of Defence, and any Counter Claims or Third Party Claims, the parties will be referred to a mandatory mediation session.
Selecting a mediator
Within 30 days from the date that the defence was filed, the parties have to select a mediator from a roster of qualified private sector mediators established by a local Mediation Committee. If the parties cannot agree on a mediator, the local Mediation Coordinator will appoint one for them.
How long does mediation last?
The minimum length of a mediation session is three hours, however, whether a session is longer and how many sessions are required depend on a variety of factors. These include:
- the complexity of the case,
- how well the parties have prepared for the mediation,
- how far they have progressed in settlement discussions, and
- whether the mediation process is working.
Parties are not required to continue mediation for more than three hours. Also, the mediator may end the mediation before that time if the case is settled or if he or she decides that the process is not working for the parties involved. If the parties have not resolved their problem at the end of the three hour mediation, but feel that they would like to continue with mediation, they may make arrangements for further mediation sessions directly with the mediator.
How much does mediation cost?
All parties in a mediation share the cost of the mediation session equally and pay the mediator directly for their services. Court-ordered mediation fees are set by the government and include one-hour of preparation time and a three-hour mediation session. The fees vary depending on the number of parties and range from $600 to $825. Anything above this amount must be agreed to by both parties before the mediation session.
Those who cannot afford the mediation fees can access the mediation services by obtaining a legal aid certificate or by meeting the Ministry of the Attorney General's financial eligibility test.
Costs of mediation sessions beyond the initial three hour session, must be agreed to by the parties and the mediator before the first mediation session. Even if the case does not settle at the mandatory mediation session, the parties may at any time voluntarily pursue a subsequent mediation session anytime before trial.
Cases that do not settle during mediation will continue in the traditional litigation process.
For more information regarding the Mandatory Mediation Program in Ontario, contact the Ministry of the Attorney General, or visit www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca.