Small Claims Court Mediation
  • Many people who file, or respond to, a small claims case are surprised to learn that they are required to attend mediation before their case can go to trial. In Grays Harbor County mediation is required.
  • During Mediation you will have the opportunity to resolve the problem; and come up with a mutually agreed upon settlement with the other party.
  • When people agree to settle their case in mediation, a settlement agreement is documented and signed. The settlement agreement is a contract and intended to be legally binding. As long as everyone does what they say they will do, the case is resolved.
  • Certified mediators from the Dispute Resolution Center (DRC) will facilitate your mediation. We are a non-profit center; and mediators are trained volunteers.

Frequently Asked Questions
 
Will this cost me more money? No, the cost of mediation is covered by court surcharges which were paid when your case was filed.

 

What if the other party doesn't show up?  If the plaintiff does not attend mediation, the case will likely be dismissed. If the defendant does not show, the court may enter judgment against the defendant without notice of a trial.

 
Is a mediation agreement enforceable? Mediation Settlement Agreements are intended to be legally binding and enforceable. In the event that one party does not fulfill the obligation(s) of the agreement, the offended party may present the signed agreement to the court for entry of judgment.
 

Do I have to mediate?Yes, you have to show up; and no, you are not obligated to resolve the conflict in mediation. Conflict resolution in Good Faith is voluntary.

 
What do we mean when we use the term Good Faith? Being in Good Faith means that you intend to listen to the other party with an open mind; and that you are willing to be honest, respectful and reveal all the pertinent information that can help resolve and settle the conflict. Good Faith also means that people agree not to interrupt each other or exhibit distracting behaviors. And of course,Good Faith means no name-calling or inflammatory language.
 
What is the process?
 

Step One: The mediator will give an opening statement. Basically, this statement includes the information you are reading right now as well as other details that will help you to better understand what to do. The mediator's opening statement is a requirement under the Washington State Mediation Act RCW 70.7. After the mediator(s) finish the opening statement, everyone will be asked to sign an Agreement to Mediate.  Signing states that the information was heard, understood and accepted.

 

Step Two: The Plaintiff gives an opening statement. The plaintiff explains why they filed the case and how they see the problem being solved. When the plaintiff has completed their opening statement, the defendant will have the same opportunity to explain why the case is being disputed and what they think will end the problem.
Note: Please prepare your opening statement prior to the mediation. Know what you want to say. Write it down or make notes so that you don't forget anything. State what happened, how you were impacted, and how you would like the situation to be resolved.

You are welcome to call the Dispute Resolution Center if you want assistance in composing your opening statement.

 

Step Three: After all the information is out on the table, the mediators will help you to organize the discussion. Often the problem consists of many issues. Organizing the issues into a structured conversation is referred to as setting an agenda. Discussing each issue allows people to hear and be heard; which often reveals the interests behind the issues. Basically, this helps to explain the why behind the what... so to speak.

Step Four: Now that everything is on the table, the parties have more information to negotiate a solution. Sometimes the party(s) may need to ask more questions in order to comfortably contribute ideas that could lead to a solution.

 

Step Five: Sometimes the mediation seems stalled and the mediators want to talk to the parties separately. Or maybe one of parties wants to leave the room to call someone for advice. Any time someone needs privacy or a separate conversation with the mediator(s), the mediator(s) will call a break (caucus). Caucuses between the mediator(s) and clients are strictly confidential.

 

Step Six: Solutions begin to surface. Both parties reach an agreement that will resolve the conflict. The mediator(s) will write down all the important aspects of the agreement in a legally binding settlement contract and both parties will sign the agreement.

 

Finally, some final notes that may be important to know: Mediations tend to take about 2 hours. Mediation conversations are confidential, meaning that, outside of extreme exceptions, all information is legally privileged.


Further Questions?

Contact

Barbie Smith

360 532 8950