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FAQs about mediation

Last updated: December 18, 2023

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What is a mediation?

At a “mediation”, a trained mediator works with you and the respondent to find a solution to your complaint. The legal term is “settle the complaint” or “settlement”. Settlement is voluntary. If you can’t agree, the process continues.

Is a mediation free?

Yes, there is no charge to attend a mediation.

Is participation voluntary?

Yes. You attend only if you agree to take part. Attending does not affect your right to continue with the complaint process.

Who attends a mediation?

A mediation is private. The public cannot attend.

Usually, the participants in a settlement meeting are:

  • the mediator
  • the parties to the complaint
  • the parties’ representatives
  • interpreters if needed

If you want to bring a support person, Contact the Tribunal to talk to a clerk or case manager about your mediation. Have your case number ready.

In some cases, the parties may invite someone else who might have an interest in the case.

In some cases, a party will not attend in person but will ask someone else to settle the complaint on their behalf.

Is what I say confidential?

Yes. What everyone says is confidential. If someone creates a document for the mediation, it is confidential. No one can use what someone says against them later on. There are exceptions. See clause 6E of the Mediation Policy. For example, the parties can agree that information isn’t confidential. You can talk to the mediator if you have questions.

When is a mediation held?

The parties may agree to attend a mediation at any time. The first chance is after the Tribunal tells the respondent about the complaint. Parties can even agree to attend mediation after the hearing starts.

Where is a mediation held?

The Tribunal decides whether a mediation will be in person or by phone. In-person meetings are usually in a neutral place, like the Tribunal. We try to find a location that is convenient for the parties.

Usually, the mediation is in-person if:

  • the parties are in Vancouver or Victoria
  • a party writes to the Tribunal to explain why the meeting should be in-person
  • the parties attended a telephone mediation that did not resolve the complaint 

Can I attend by phone?

Yes, that may be possible. Contact the Tribunal to talk to a clerk or case manager about your mediation. Have your case number ready.

How is a mediation scheduled?

There are two ways. First, the Tribunal may offer to schedule a mediation. Second, a party can phone or write the case manager to request one at any time. 

How long will it take? Will there be breaks?

A mediation usually starts at 9:30 am. It may go lunch time, or it may go to 4:30. Sometimes, everyone agrees to schedule more time. 

Yes, there are breaks to eat, rest, or use the washroom. If you need a break, tell the mediator.   Feel free to bring snacks.  

Who is the mediator?

The Tribunal appoints a mediator. The mediator may be

  • a Tribunal Member
  • a Tribunal lawyer, or
  • an outside mediator.

Can I request a specific mediator?

No, the Tribunal decides who the mediator is. But, you can ask the Registrar to appoint a mediator with a certain style of mediation or approach. 

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?

No, only if everyone agrees in writing that the Tribunal Member may decide the complaint. All participants must sign the Agreement to Participate in Mediation with Presiding Member. See the Tribunal`s Policy respecting Mediation with Presiding Member.

What is the mediator’s role?

In all cases, the mediator is neutral. Mediators may use different approaches, including:

  • Interest-based mediation. The mediator helps the parties focus on their interests instead of the legal dispute. The mediator helps the parties to find solutions that address their interests.
  • Early evaluation or “rights-based mediation“. The mediator:
    • listens to each side
    • tells the parties the strengths and weaknesses of the complaint
    • may tell the parties what the Tribunal might order if the complainant won at a hearing
  • Social justice mediation. The mediator:
    • meets one-on-one with each party to discuss concerns and options
    • shares each party’s story with the other party
    • pays special attention to parties’ identities and power dynamics
    • helps the parties find their own solution

The mediator may contact the parties before the mediation to help prepare. 

The mediator may suggest that you talk about remedies that would benefit others. For example, a new policy might benefit others. But the mediator won’t make you tell you how to solve the complaint. 

The mediator may stop the mediation at any time. Examples are if the mediator decides that:

  • A participant is not abiding by the conditions of participation set out in clause 6 of the Mediation Policy
  • A participant is not following the mediator’s directions
  • The mediation process is unfair, unproductive, or abusive. 

Does the Tribunal provide interpreters?

Yes, if needed. Please bring your own interpreter. If you can’t bring an interpreter, ask the Tribunal to provide one. Ask at least 3 weeks before the mediation.

Do I need a lawyer?

No. You do not need a lawyer. But we recommend that you get your own legal advice. The mediator will give you time to get legal advice before you agree to settle. See Who Can Help.

What if the complainant is a minor (under 19)?

Minors (people under 19) may file a complaint. The Infants Act governs contracting by minors. A contract with a minor is unenforceable against them except in limited circumstances. If the Tribunal is aware that the complainant is a minor, it will refer the respondent to the Infants Act. The respondent may agree to take part in the mediation with the minor. Or the respondent might ask that the legal guardian attend. If the parties can’t agree about who will attend, the mediation won’t go ahead.

What happens if the complaint is not resolved?

The complaint will continue in the Tribunal’s process.  That may include:

  • the respondent files a response to the complaint
  • the parties exchange documents
  • the respondent applies to dismiss the complaint without a hearing
  • preparing for a hearing

What happens if the complaint is resolved?

The complainant will sign a Form 6 – Complaint Withdrawal. After it is filed, the Tribunal will dismiss the complaint (or the part you settled). 

What if the other side breaches the settlement agreement?

After the complainant withdraws the complaint, the Tribunal process is over. The Tribunal does not enforce settlement agreements. Section 30 of the Code governs the enforcement of settlement agreements.


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