If someone sues you in small claims court, you have another option instead of going to trial. Mediation might be better suited to settling the dispute.
An Amicable Solution
Mediation is a type of negotiation where an impartial person, called the mediator, helps the parties find a solution to the dispute on their own.
A mediator helps you reopen dialogue with the other party. Both parties respectfully express their points of view. Everything is confidential. The mediator assists in negotiating a solution everyone can agree on.
Mediation avoids long delays. Also, you won’t have to experience the stress and emotion of a trial and its unpredictable outcome.
Always Free and Accessible
You can take part in one or more mediation sessions free of charge as soon as you file a claim in small claims court. You can get up to three free hours. These hours can be used for work with a mediator during a session with you, or for work the mediator does to prepare outside the session.
You must say on the application form whether you are open to mediation. The other party can then agree to try mediation to find a solution.
It’s never too late to settle your dispute by mediation. Even if you refused mediation when you filed the claim, you can always change your mind. You simply need to ask the clerk at the court office where you filed your claim.
You can go to mediation at any time, even on the day of the trial! In many courthouses, mediators are available on days when trials are scheduled. They offer their services to people waiting to go before the judge.
If you haven’t yet had a free mediation session, you can use this last chance to try to solve the problem.
An Easy and Confidential Process
When all the parties agree to mediation, the court clerk assigns a mediator. The mediator is a lawyer or notary who is specially trained in mediation and is accredited by the Barreau du Québec (law society) or Chambre des notaires du Québec (notaries’ association).
The mediator consults you and the other party to set the date and time of the mediation session. The mediator chooses the place. The mediator might decide to hold the mediation using distance technology.
The mediation session lasts about an hour and is rather informal. During the session, you can state your position and listen to the other party’s position. The mediator will help you try to solve your dispute.
Everything that is said, and all the documents that are exchanged, stay confidential. You can express yourself freely.
Mediation Can Avoid a Trial
Mediation often solves disputes. If mediation is successful, you must submit a copy of the agreement to the courthouse clerk. If you want the agreement to remain confidential, you must submit a notice that says you settled the dispute through mediation.
You could ask for your agreement to be approved by the court. If so, your agreement is the same as a judgment. This means that if one of the parties doesn’t respect the agreement, the other party can force them to respect it.
If mediation doesn’t lead to an agreement, your claim in small claims court continues as planned. Participating in mediation doesn’t delay your trial date.