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Criteria for selecting a mediator

Mediation in Canada is not a regulated profession like, for example, architecture, medicine, or law. There is no single body that licenses or accredits mediators and no single public directory of available mediators.

Mediators are not required to complete any particular training or education before acting as mediators, though many often do. Universities, law schools, and other organizations do provide training, accreditation, and resources for mediators. It is possible to obtain diplomas, certificates, post-secondary degrees, and graduate degrees in mediation.

Someone seeking a mediator to help resolve a dispute should consult his or her own lawyer who may be able to provide referrals. In addition, there are a number of private alternative dispute resolution services that maintain rosters of available mediators. Two examples of such services are Family Mediation Canada and ADR Ontario. Organizations like those will provide you with information about mediators in your geographic area. Alternative dispute resolution services can be contacted directly by telephone and can also be found online.

The situation is somewhat different if you are participating in a mandatory mediation as part of an ongoing legal action. In that case, the Ministry of the Attorney General maintains rosters of mediators who a part of that mandatory mediation stream. Many of those mediators are also available to help parties participating in voluntary mediations, and their names may be found on the rosters of private alternative dispute resolution services.

Mediators who work in the mandatory mediation stream are required to comply with a Code of Conduct as well as the court’s rules of procedure. Those rules may also set out processes for selecting and retaining a mediator. If you are participating in a mandatory mediation as part of an ongoing legal action, your lawyer should be involved in the selection of the mediator according to the applicable rules. If you are self-represented, you may wish to consider seeking legal advice before participating in mediation.

Once you have identified a possible mediator, it is appropriate to contact that person and ask for some information. You might want to receive: a biography or resumé; names of lawyers who have referred cases to them; an outline of their fee structure; indications of availability; and information about where they conduct mediation sessions. If the issues involved in your dispute are particularly complex, it may also be appropriate to query the potential mediators’ experience with similar issues.

When selecting a mediator, keep in mind that the mediator is a neutral third party who should have no personal stake in the outcome. It is important that the mediator not have a relationship with any party that might place him or her in a conflict of interest. The potential mediator may ask you to identify all of the parties early in your consultation in order to ensure no conflict arises. If you are concerned about the potential for conflict of interest, you should ask the mediator to run a “conflict check” or ask your lawyer to address the issue with the potential mediator.

Whether mandatory or voluntary, mediation is a process that works best when both parties are confident that it may result in a resolution. The possibility of success is increased if all parties are comfortable with the selected mediator and have an opportunity to participate in the selection process. In the voluntary mediation stream, especially, it is important to remember that all parties to the mediation must agree on a mediator. No party can force another party to accept its choice. Even in the mandatory mediation stream, it is important that every party’s interests and perspectives be considered in the selection process.

Read more:

Dispute Resolution Reference Guide

ADR Institute of Ontario