As an experienced mediator can attest, there is nothing more frustrating to the parties that attend a mediation and to the mediator, than the “no show” of a party or decision-maker from the other side. However, if frustration was the only issue, it would be surmountable. The real problem is that is very difficult to settle a case without the presence of all decision makers.
One of the most important aspects of a mediation is that it is an in-person experience. Sitting through the process, hearing the positions and arguments of the parties, expressing their view of the case, and allowing the mediator to see the party and assess them are critical aspects of a successful mediation. If a party or claims representative does not show up at the mediation, it then follows that he is not affected by the process. And unfortunately, telephone conversations are not an adequate substitute.
It is too easy for an absent party to ‘just say no’ even to very reasonable offers by the other side. Of course, the response of the party who is present is the question, “why am I here wasting my time?” If there is one element of mediation that is critical to its success, it is the presence of the parties necessary to agree to a settlement. If nothing else, make sure that when you are arranging for a mediation that you discuss with opposing counsel who will be present and insist that parties and insurance representatives be at the mediation. As one who has served as a neutral to many mediations, I can easily say that it is the key to a successful resolution of the case.
Bruce A. Friedman is a mediator with a national practice. With years of litigation experience behind him, he understands the goals of the mediation process and will do his best to ensure that the needs of both parties are met, justly and efficiently. For more information on the mediation services that Bruce A. Friedman provides, check out his website at http://www.FriedmanMediation.com, his profile at ADRServices.org, or call him at (310) 201-0010.