Hang Up The Gloves

Mediation is your answer

 Tracy Rucka  |    November 03, 2004

Have a dispute with another REALTOR®? Want a quick, inexpensive, voluntary alternative to arbitration or litigation? Mediation is your answer. REALTOR® mediation is the gateway to dispute resolution, providing the disputing parties with a forum to resolve conflicts and rebuild working relationships. Mediation facilitates win-win solutions, crafted and agreed upon by the participants.

What types of disputes may be submitted for mediation? 

Mediation may be used in contract disputes between REALTORS® including procuring cause claims or referral fee disputes. In Wisconsin, mediation may also be used to resolve certain alleged Code of Ethics violations. However, if the alleged activity could be a violation of the public trust, the compliant must proceed to an ethics hearing.

How does the mediation process work? 

Any REALTOR® may initiate a request for mediation. Because mediation is voluntary, the mediation process will proceed only with the agreement of both parties. Each local board is required to offer mediation, and local board policy will dictate whether mediation is available before or after a written request for arbitration is filed. The local board provides a trained mediator who chooses a time and location acceptable to the participants to meet. The mediator allows each of the participants an opportunity to share their stories, make suggestions for resolution, and if an agreement is reached, draft the mediation resolution agreement.

What is the mediator's role?

The mediator's role is to assist the participants to resolve their dispute. Although the mediator may offer suggestions or recommendations, the mediator cannot coerce the parties to agree without their consent. The mediator uses problem-solving skills and tools to help the parties communicate and understand each other's claims, positions and goals, thereby facilitating resolution.

How is mediation different from arbitration?

In an arbitration or ethics hearing, the hearing panel has the authority to make a determination based upon the facts submitted into evidence. Arbitration awards and ethics discipline and sanctions must comply with the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual. In mediation, however, the mediator can neither force the parties to agree, nor demand a certain result. The participants resolve the issue as they see fit, allowing for creativity and freedom to fashion a result appropriate to their needs.

Is a mediation agreement binding?

Yes, once the parties reach an agreement, the mediator assists the parties to draft a Mediation Resolution Agreement. Once agreed upon and signed, the agreement will be binding on the parties and judicially enforceable. If, however, the parties do not agree, they are released from mediation and may proceed with the arbitration or ethics process.

Does mediation always work?

Not always. Although many times the participants are able to reach conciliation, sometimes the dispute will need to be resolved by a third party.

Is mediation confidential?

Yes, the mediation process is confidential. Before the mediation begins, the participants and mediator agree that information discussed and any proposed resolutions offered to resolve the dispute in mediation may not be used in subsequent arbitration or litigation.

Additionally, the National Association of REALTORS®' Field Guide to Mediation with mediation articles and resources is available at www.realtor.org/libweb.nsf/pages/fg700

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