Legal System

Mediation: Getting Help to Avoid a Trial

The Regulation respecting the mediation and arbitration of small claims came into force on November 23, 2023. This article is currently being revised to reflect the new rules included in this regulation.


Your rights aren’t being respected, and you’re looking for a solution that doesn’t involve going to court. Negotiating to have your rights respected can be difficult, but mediation can help you find a good solution that avoids the cost and time of a trial.

Guided discussions

Mediation is a meeting between a mediator and the people involved in a conflict to discuss the problem.

The mediator helps find a solution that’s right for everyone and that avoids a trial. The mediator doesn’t take sides and can’t decide who’s right or wrong. The mediator helps the participants find their own solution.

If they can’t find a solution through mediation, they can try other ways to solve their conflict.

When should you go to mediation?

In Quebec, mediation is used mostly during divorce and separation. But it can also be used to prevent other situations from getting worse or to settle a conflict that’s lasted a long time. Here are examples:

  • A tenant disturbs the neighbours by making noise late at night.
  • Heirs argue over an inheritance.
  • A consumer buys a defective product from a store.
  • A buyer finds a hidden defect in a new house.
  • A customer isn’t satisfied with the work done by a contractor.
  • Partners, shareholders or colleagues at work have a disagreement.

When to go to mediation

You can go to mediation almost any time during the conflict and for various reasons:

To avoid going to court: For example, if you’ve sent or received a demand letter, you can suggest mediation to the other person.

During a court case: Even if you’ve already opened a file in court, you can still continue to negotiate and go to mediation. Some courts even offer this service. Sometimes it’s called conciliation, but the process is similar.

After receiving the judge’s decision: For example, you can go to mediation to reach an agreement on how to repay an amount of money.

Benefits of mediation

Less expensive: Mediation isn’t very expensive, and the people involved can share the cost. Some types of mediation are free. But if you go to court, lawyer and expert fees can quickly add up to thousands of dollars.

Fast: Mediation can give good results in just a few days or even a few hours. Mediation can lower the stress of a conflict that’s lasted a long time or a relationship that’s getting more and more difficult. But if you go to court, it can take months or years.

Voluntary: A person can leave the mediation process at any time.

Flexible: Participants can choose to meet when they and the mediator are available, for example, evenings or weekends.

Creative: You aren’t limited to the solutions the law provides. Going to court only settles the legal aspects of a problem, but mediation can be more creative. In some conflicts, the best solution can be an apology. A judge can’t force a person to apologize, and the court process isn’t good for this. But mediation can end with an apology.

Example: You’re having problems with a noisy neighbour. A judge might order your neighbour to pay you money to make up for the inconvenience. But this won’t help improve your relationship. In mediation, you can agree on a solution that encourages a better relationship with your neighbour in the long run.

If mediation isn’t for you

Though it has many benefits, mediation isn’t a miracle solution. Every conflict is unique, and mediation doesn’t always work. There are other ways to reach an agreement. But going to court is always an option if you can’t negotiate an agreement.