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What is mediation

Mediation is a way to resolve a legal dispute without going to trial. It is a flexible process where a neutral third party (the mediator):

  • Facilitates discussions and guides parties to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement.
  • Helps parties to focus on finding solutions that meet their concerns, instead of determining who is at fault in a dispute.

When it applies

Any party in the dispute may request mediation at any stage of the proceedings. However, all parties must agree to use mediation to resolve the dispute.

A judge may also refer your case for mediation at any time during any proceedings.

Some examples of common stages where the court may refer parties to mediation include the case management conference, pre-trial conference or summons for directions hearing.

When it is appropriate

Before you request mediation, refer to the following to find out if mediation is appropriate for your case.

Mediation is appropriate if you....

Mediation is not appropriate if you....

  • Want a quick end to the dispute.
  • Want to save legal costs.
  • Want to save or maintain your relationship with the other party.
  • Want to avoid publicity or maintain confidentiality.
  • Want a business-driven or creative solution to your dispute.
  • Feel that the law does not provide a solution that meets your concerns.
  • Feel that communication difficulties between you and the other party are preventing you from resolving your dispute.
  • Need the court's decision on a legal issue.
    • For example, a business may need a court decision regarding a dispute over how to interpret a clause in its standard contract.
  • Find that the other party may not be attending mediation in good faith.
    • For example, the other party is seeking to gather information to exploit for its own business purposes, without intending to explore a settlement.
  • (For businesses) Find that key representatives or decision makers are not willing to participate in mediation.

Benefits of mediation

There are several benefits of choosing mediation over trial.

Settling your dispute through mediation will generally be less costly as you will be spending less time to resolve the dispute.

This means you will save on legal and court hearing fees that would have been spent on preparing for and going to trial.

In general, a dispute may be resolved after 1 to 3 sessions, with each session lasting about 3 hours. The duration and number of sessions may vary depending on the complexity of the case and the parties' attitudes.

In comparison, going to trial may take longer due to the processes of fact-finding and cross-examination to verify the accuracy of the facts presented to the court.

You and the other party are in control of whether to settle the dispute and the details of your settlement. The mediator's role is to help you and the other party find solutions, rather than make a judgment or determine who is at fault.

In comparison, for a trial, you will give up control to a judge who makes a decision based on the evidence you provide.

The mediation process is flexible and more informal. There is a greater opportunity for interaction between you, the other party and the mediator to arrive at solutions without being strictly bound by the law.

In comparison, a court trial is a formal process. The judge has to ensure that you follow court procedures and legal principles.

Trials are generally open to the public while mediation sessions are held in private.

This means the discussions between parties during a mediation session will be confidential. If you and the other party reach a settlement, you may also decide to keep the details of what you have agreed to confidential.

Discussions during a mediation session are without prejudice. If the case proceeds to a trial, what you said during mediation cannot be used as evidence against you.

In comparison, everything you say in a trial is evidence and may be used against you.

How to request mediation

How you request mediation depends on which court hears your case.

You may request mediation by the State Courts' Court Dispute Resolution Cluster (CDRC).

Note
Before requesting, you need to check whether the other party is willing to attend mediation. The CDRC only accepts cases where all the parties agree to mediation.

Mediation by the CDRC is available for cases such as:

  • Civil cases commenced by a Writ of Summons.
  • Civil cases commenced by an Originating Summons.
  • Cases from the Small Claims Tribunals (SCT), Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT) and Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals (CDRT).
  • Magistrate's Complaints.

Alternatively, you may also choose to arrange for mediation to be conducted by other organisations.

For more information, please refer to:

How to file

If you wish to attend mediation, file the Court Dispute Resolution (CDR)/Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Form (Form 7A, State Courts Practice Directions) via “Request for CDR” on eLitigation. The form should confirm that all parties consent to mediation and contain the parties’ available dates in the next two months to attend the mediation. 

After you file

If your application is accepted by the CDRC, you will receive a letter notifying you of the date, time and venue of your mediation session. The other party will also receive this letter.

You need to attend the first mediation session regardless of whether you are represented by a lawyer. If you fail to attend the session without providing valid reasons, you will be deemed to be unwilling to attempt mediation. If the case proceeds to a trial, the court may take such conduct into account when making costs orders. (1)

Estimated fees

There are no fees for mediation by the CDRC except for District Court cases where each party needs to pay $250.

Refer to this table for the exceptions and details:

Type of case

Cost of CDRC mediation

All Magistrate's Court cases

Free

District Court cases:

  • For non-injury motor accidents.
  • For damages for death or personal injuries.
  • Under the Protection from Harassment Act.

Free

All other District Court cases

Each party pays $250

Other cases not mentioned above (such as for a tribunal case or Magistrate's Complaint)

Free

How to file

If you wish to attend mediation, file the ADR Offer (Form 28, Supreme Court Practice Directions) via eLitigation and serve a copy on the other party.

If the other party is willing to attempt mediation, they will file a Response to ADR Offer (Form 29, Supreme Court Practice Directions) and serve a copy on you within 14 days after you had served the ADR Offer on them.

The court may then give directions for your case, such as to set a timeline for mediation to complete, or to adjourn pending court proceedings. You will need to arrange for mediation with a relevant organisation.

If the other party fails to respond to the ADR Offer, they will be deemed to be unwilling to attempt mediation without providing any reasons. If the case proceeds to a trial, the court may take such conduct into account when making costs orders. (2)

Where to go for mediation

The Supreme Court does not offer mediation services. If the court approves your request, you need to arrange for mediation with an organisation of your choice.

For more information, please refer to:

Need help?

The information here is for general guidance as the courts do not provide legal advice. If you need further help, you may want to get independent legal advice.

Find out more

Resources

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