When conflicts arise that cannot be resolved through direct talks, mediation is an opportunity for parties to resolve disputes in a private, expeditious and economical way. Mediation focuses on the underlying issues and looks at how each party’s needs and interests can be satisfied. It is designed to preserve the relationship between disputing parties, rather than destroy them.
FINRA mediators are skilled in helping people discuss their differences and explore possible solutions. They are trained to ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to all sides of a dispute. They will often repeat back key points and summarize to help participants understand one another and keep the conversation moving forward. Mediation is confidential and everything said in the process may not be used against either party in court.
At the mediation session, each side will have an opportunity to make an opening statement (often to their lawyer). The mediator will then usually allow each party to tell their story uninterrupted. This can be difficult, but it is important that the facts are presented in a neutral and non-judgmental manner. The mediator will then ask each side to discuss the issues and what solutions they are looking for. Some mediators will continue to discuss the issue in joint sessions, while others will move from joint sessions to separate meetings with each of the disputing parties (called caucuses) if their exchanges in joint session generate more heat than light.
When the mediation is completed, a settlement is typically reached through negotiation and is signed by all of the participants. The mediator will also prepare a memorandum of understanding or agreement to memorialize the terms of the settlement.