Mediation: How to Resolve a Dispute Without Getting the Courts Involved
By Adam Foster
Let’s face it: Cannabis and the courts have often had kind of a rocky relationship. Nevertheless, disagreements in business exist, so what are the best options for solving them?
Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), a blanket term referring to various processes for resolving disputes outside of the traditional court system. Mediation can take many forms, but its most distinctive characteristics are that it is both voluntary and non-binding. The best way to understand the differences is by comparing mediation to a court case.
In a court case, a plaintiff starts by serving the defendant a copy of a legal complaint. That kicks off the formal civil litigation process, with the parties required to comply with certain procedural rules, and deadlines that move the case towards trial. The result will be a judgment on each of the parties’ claims, with winners and losers determined by the judge or jury. With limited exceptions, court filings and court proceedings are open to the public.
Conversely, mediation is a confidential process; in Colorado and many other states, such confidentiality is protected by statute. In mediation, parties to the dispute meet with a mediator: a neutral third party who possesses specialized experience in settling legal disputes, and knowledge of the legal and technical aspects of the dispute.
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