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Mediation & 

Arbitration 

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What is Mediation?

Mediation is a negotiation facilitated by an objective third-party mediator. In this case, the mediator would be a lawyer. Mediation is not meant to be a counselling session, nor is it designed to benefit one party over the other; both parties have to participate voluntarily, unless directed to do so by the court. The mediation is meant to provide parties an opportunity to discuss their legal position and desired outcomes in an informal setting. An experienced mediator will likely be able to facilitate discussions in all areas of family law, including parenting, child support, spousal support and property division. Typically, parties share the costs associated with the mediation, but different arrangements can be made between the parties.

How is a Mediation Conducted?

Both parties will have an opportunity to meet with the same lawyer individually. At that time, they will discuss their position and their desired outcome for the mediation. Once both parties have had the opportunity to do so, the mediation can begin. Both parties will meet with the lawyer at the same time, who will act as a facilitator for the conversation. He or she will provide guidance regarding the law and may assist in determining strengths and weaknesses for each party. At the end of the mediation, a mediation report will be prepared by the responsible lawyer.

Is a Mediation Legally Binding?

The mediation report prepared by the lawyer is not legally binding. If both parties agree, however, a separation agreement can be prepared by that same lawyer. Each party would then be responsible for obtaining their own independent legal advice to review and sign the agreement. Once both parties have sought independent legal advice and have signed the agreement, it is legally binding, subject to the courts’ discretion.

THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO GET A RESOLUTION FOR FAMILY MATTERS. ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION MAY BE FOR YOU!

ARBITRATION

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a court-like process which allows parties to make submissions, enter evidence, examine witnesses and obtain a final and binding decision without having to appear before a Judge or Justice. This is an excellent option for clients who want to have a quick resolution but want to avoid the courtroom entirely. It is also an opportunity for parties to address their matters privately; arbitrations are not likely to become part of the public record. Other modes of litigation often occur entirely within the public record. Arbitration is also economically beneficial for parties who disagree and would otherwise spend significant amounts of money in legal fees. It is important for parties to understand that unlike mediation, the outcome cannot be predicted by the parties. Arbitration is similar to a court proceeding in this fashion; the decision rests entirely in the arbitrator’s hands, and this decision may not reflect the desired outcome of either parties. On the other hand, parties who agree to participate in an arbitration have the ability to select their decision-maker, which differs from the courtroom process.

How is an Arbitration Conducted?

The arbitration process is governed by the Arbitration Act, RSA 2000, c A-43. Before the arbitration process begins, parties are required to enter into an Arbitration Agreement. The Arbitration Agreement reflects how the arbitration is to be conducted and includes details on all relevant mechanisms, including but not limited to:

  1. who are the parties involved in the arbitration;

  2. who is the arbitrator;

  3. whether parties will obtain legal representation for the arbitration;

  4. whether arguments will be submitted orally or in writing;

  5. whether witnesses will be examined/cross-examined;

  6. what kind of evidence will be accepted;

  7. whether the decision can be appealed; and

  8. fees.

Once the Arbitration Agreement has been signed, the arbitration process can begin. Depending on the agreed-upon structure, parties will then have the green light to proceed as outlined in the Arbitration Agreement. In some circumstances, the court is able to intervene and/or to assist with the conduct of the arbitration.

Is an Arbitration Legally Binding?      

Unlike mediation, arbitration is legally-binding. The decision pronounced by the arbitrator is full and final and can be enforced by the courts.

If the Arbitration Agreement allows it, an arbitrator’s decision can be appealed. If one or more of the parties believe that there was an error in law or an error in fact, they may appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta within 30 days of the arbitrator’s decision. If the Arbitration Agreement does not outline the procedure for an appeal, parties can apply to the court to seek leave to appeal the decision of the arbitrator and may be given an opportunity to do so.

Is an Arbitration Legally Binding?      

Unlike mediation, arbitration is legally-binding. The decision pronounced by the arbitrator is full and final and can be enforced by the courts.

If the Arbitration Agreement allows it, an arbitrator’s decision can be appealed. If one or more of the parties believe that there was an error in law or an error in fact, they may appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta within 30 days of the arbitrator’s decision. If the Arbitration Agreement does not outline the procedure for an appeal, parties can apply to the court to seek leave to appeal the decision of the arbitrator and may be given an opportunity to do so.

MED-ARB COMBINATION

It some situations, a combination of mediation and arbitration may be useful. Parties may agree to address some family law issues in mediation while requiring an objective third-party arbitrator to make a decision regarding other specific family law issues.

If you choose to start with mediation but it becomes clear the other party will not consent to a reasonable outcome, you have the ability to move to an arbitration approach at any time.If you choose to participate in an arbitration immediately, you can incorporate mediation during the arbitration at a later time, subject to the other party’s consent.

Telephone: (780) 814-1916

Spirit River

4614, 50 Street Listhaeghe

Building, Main Street 

Spirit River, AB T0H 3G0

Hours: Bookings By Appointment

Fax: (780) 814-7116

Grande Prairie

#201, 9505 Resources Road

Grande Prairie, AB T8V 8C2

Hours: Monday to Friday 8:30 am - 5:00 pm

Closed 12:00pm-1:00pm For Lunch

Fairview

10412, 110 Street

Fairview, AB T0H 1L0

 Hours: Bookings By Appointment

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