1. Mediation is voluntary. No one is forced to attend a mediation. With litigation, the parties may be forced to go to court. With mediation, if one side does not want to mediate, the case does not go to mediation.
2. Mediation takes place at a neutral setting, at a mutually convenient time. Litigation takes place in court on the date and time scheduled by the court.
3. With mediation, the parties can present any information they feel is important. With litigation, the court decides what information is relevant. Mediation is not bound by the Rules of Evidence nor does it have procedural rules like litigation does.
4. With mediation, the case is not limited to the issues raised in the complaint; underlying problems may be addressed. With litigation, the case is limited to the issues raised in the complaint.
5. With mediation, the parties decide how to resolve their problems; the mediator cannot force an agreement on the parties. With litigation, the judge or jury determines the outcome of the case; the judge has the power to force the parties to comply with the court’s decision.
6. Mediation is strictly confidential. Litigation is a matter of public record. All notes are destroyed at the end of mediation. With litigation, there are court files and notes of testimony, etc.
7. With mediation, the decision does not need to follow particular rules of law. With litigation, the decision must be based on statutory case law.
8. With mediation, the parties are free to come up with any solution they feel is appropriate. With litigation, the solution is limited by legal remedies (i.e., money damages).
9. Mediation is a win/win situation. No one loses in mediation. Litigation is a win/lose situation. It usually ends with a winner and a loser.
10. Mediation is much less expensive than litigation. A mediator’s fees are much less than a lawyer’s fees. With mediation, each side pays their own lawyer.
11. Mediation can be used at any stage of the dispute. Litigation often has stages the parties have to go through before the case is ready for trial. Mediation takes less time to settle disputes than litigation.