Frequently Asked Questions about Settlement Meetings (Mediation)

What is a settlement meeting?

It is a voluntary meeting where a Tribunal mediator helps the parties to agree about how to resolve the complaint. Voluntary settlement is one way that the purposes of the Human Rights Code are fulfilled. A settlement meeting is sometimes called mediation.

Is a settlement meeting free?

Yes, there is no charge for attending a settlement meeting.

Is participation voluntary?

Yes. Parties are expected to attend once they agree to participate.  Participating does not affect a party’s right to proceed to hearing or to make an application.

Who attends a settlement meeting?

The participants in a settlement meeting are the mediator, the parties to the complaint, their representatives and interpreters. In some cases, affected third parties may attend. The parties may also agree to have other persons attend.

Is a settlement meeting private and confidential?

Yes. Any document created for the purpose of the settlement meeting and anything said during the settlement meeting is confidential. It is not admissible as evidence at a hearing unless the person who provided the information agrees. Parties must sign the Tribunal’s Agreement to Participate in Mediation, which confirms this.

When is a settlement meeting held?

The parties may agree to attend a settlement meeting at any time, including before the respondent must respond to the complaint.

Where is a settlement meeting held?

The settlement meeting is usually held in a neutral setting in locations convenient for the parties.  A settlement meeting may also be held by conference call or video conference.

Can I attend by phone?

Yes, that is possible. Discuss this with your Case Manager.

How is a settlement meeting scheduled?

The Tribunal may offer to schedule a settlement meeting or a party can phone or write the case manager to request one at any time.

What is the role of the mediator?

The Tribunal appoints a mediator who may be a Tribunal Member, a Tribunal lawyer, or an outside mediator. In all cases, the mediator is neutral. Mediators may use different approaches, including:

  • Interest-based mediation where the aim is to move the parties away from conflict, to focus on interests rather than positions, and to generate solutions to the issues raised.  The parties themselves generate solutions.
  • Early evaluation, also called rights-based mediation, where the mediator reviews the facts with the parties and provides the parties with an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the complaint, and may advise the parties of remedies that might be expected should the matter proceed to hearing and the complainant is successful.

The mediator may contact the parties before the settlement meeting to prepare for the settlement meeting and to answer the parties’ questions.

Can a Tribunal Member act as mediator?

Yes. When acting as a mediator, a Tribunal Member has no power to decide the complaint. 

If we don’t settle, will the mediator decide my case?

The Tribunal Member who acted as mediator will not hear or decide the complaint, except where all parties agree in writing that the Tribunal Member may decide the complaint.

Does the Tribunal provide interpretation services?

Yes, if they are needed. Parties are asked to bring their own interpreter to settlement meetings. If a party is unable to provide an interpreter, and is not able to participate meaningfully without one, they may request the Tribunal to provide interpretation services. A request must be made at least three weeks before the meeting.

Do I need a lawyer?

No. Although the Tribunal does not require parties to be represented by lawyers, it is strongly recommended that self-represented parties obtain independent legal advice.  Time will be provided to allow parties to obtain independent legal advice before agreeing to settle.

What happens if the complaint is not resolved?

The complaint will continue in the Tribunal’s process.  That may include filing a response to the complaint, filing an application to dismiss the complaint without a hearing, or preparing for a formal hearing before a Tribunal Member.

What happens if the complaint is resolved?

If all or some of the complaint is resolved the complainant will sign a Form 6 – Complaint Withdrawal. After it is filed, the Tribunal will dismiss the complaint (or part of it).