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Mediation Procedure Suggestion: Send Your Own Notice of Mediation

April 4, 2014

Most mediators and mediation groups, upon confirming your retention of them as the agreed mediator for the parties to the issues, will send (and file) their Notice of Mediation on behalf of the scheduling parties.  Under the relatively informal nature of mediation in Florida, this notice is likely (and usually) sufficient notice for most routine purposes.

I suggest, however, that it would probably be a better/best practice for that party who is taking the lead on scheduling the mediation, in addition to relying upon the mediator’s notice, to also file (and serve) their own notice of mediation.

(And remember to always send a courtesy copy of your notice directly to your mediator.  This simple direct notice to your chosen mediator can be the ultimate safety valve to best ensure your mediation date.)

You know my feeling about lawyers heeding mediation procedure.  See, Mediation Certificate of Authority: A Few Thoughts May 3, 2012, and More Thoughts… May 31, 2012.

Mediators and their staff are human.  Errors can occur.  And, there is nothing worse than arriving at mediation only to find that one (or more) of those persons or their counsel who are required participants to the mediation, did not get notice!

Think of how easy it is to avoid this potential non-notice by simply officially filing your own notice.  Under the e-filing system now mandatory in Florida (although still in progress in some Counties), as your notice of mediation is filed, not only is “official” service now automatic with the filing, but the system insures that all of the proper persons to be noticed are given notice and to all of the “official sites” of such notice.  (It is permissible, for example, for counsel to have at least two “official” service addresses to ensure service.)

All too often with notices sent by mediators, the accuracy of their “complimentary”  mediator’s  notice is only as valid, accurate and complete as the input given them by the scheduling attorney or attorney’s staff.  And, most of the imputed service information is by telephone and often without copies of current official pleadings to compare services lists.

And, many mediator notices are still being mailed.

If an old address is mistakenly given, a replaced attorney included, a replacement firm missed, or any interested party inadvertently omitted, there is little ability for the staff of the mediator to catch the error.  (And, frankly, like any other office, a mediator’s staff is only as good as the person that is assigned that task, that day, and has the innate interest in being correct.)

Fortunately, failure of attendance at mediation as the result of a lack of notice is not a frequent occurrence and certainly not endemic.  In fact, most mediators will often catch and cure any such issue of notice well prior to mediation by their own personal systems, including pre-mediation calls, etc.

But, the first time your client, or any other important mediation participant, after long-distance travel and special scheduling effort, well-prepared and looking forward to a successful mediation, arrives at mediation only to find one of the required participants is not present due to a failure of notice, perhaps you will recall my simple suggestion!

Avoid any attendance issue.  Send your own Notice of Mediation, regardless of who else may also send one.

Preparation is always its own reward.

Dan, from Cocoa, Florida.


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