The courts now offer a small claims mediation service free of charge. The judge cannot force you to try mediation, but they are likely to encourage it as a way to resolve your dispute. Mediation is a non-legal process also known as Alternative or Negotiated Dispute Resolution; it is handled by a neutral third party called a mediator. A mediator is trained to tease out the issues underlying your dispute to see if it can be resolved without the need to go to court. A mediator should never propose a solution, they are there to facilitate a dialogue.
A mediator will bring the claimant and the defendant together to try to talk things out so that you can come to your own arrangement as to how to move forward. The mediator will likely be appointed by the court, so if you go via this route you won’t have to worry about finding someone to mediate your case, although the waiting list may be long. The court office will also manage proceedings as part of your case management.
You may be asked to attend the mediation in person, via telephone, or via video conference. The mediation is likely to take a matter of hours and should all happen on the same day.
Both parties need to agree to mediation for it to happen. The Directions Questionnaire will include a box to tick if you want to try mediation.