Most people are familiar with the term “litigation”, such as with the phrase “my company is involved in litigation”. This refers to the system by which one party sues another party for a wrong done or over a dispute that has arisen.

Litigation is a system of rules and limitations, while mediation is a means of communication. It’s a tool for resolving disputes.

Our litigation system has evolved over hundreds of years, and is associated with many strict rules. To litigate, most people need a lawyer to help navigate that person or company through the rules to the ultimate goal of trial; along the way, lawyers can exchange their clients’ documents, and for the most part, lawyers “speak” for their clients to other lawyers.

If the dispute is not settled prior to a trial, the parties proceed to a trial where both lawyers present evidence for their clients in a systematic, prescribed manner. Both sides are “heard” by a judge or jury, witnesses are questioned, again, within a very strict framework, and then a decision is made that binds both parties. This system is tried and true, and is recognized as the primary method to settle disputes. Litigation has value, and will remain a necessary system, but it is not the only way.

Mediation is not a system of document filings, responses or discovery or court appearances. Nor does it require a long wait or high costs. Instead, mediation is a less formal, flexible and civil method of communication used to resolve a dispute with another party. The process itself can be tailored to fit individual needs, but usually involves the parties meeting together with a mediator in a neutral setting. It is most effective for those parties who genuinely want to resolve a dispute.

Most mediations result in resolution; those that don’t usually advance the process and result in timely resolutions prior to trial.  All save money, clarify issues, simplify complexities and improve communication.

Why choose mediation?

With mediation each party retains control of the information that is shared, and how it is shared. You may want to have your say, get something off your chest, or just cut to the chase. Litigation rarely allows you to do that within its system of rules. Mediation can allow you to do all of those things respectfully and productively.

Strategically, the litigation system controls the flow of information to best position a client for trial. While that might be a good trial strategy, it can hamper the ability of parties to resolve their disputes much earlier. At mediation, everything shared is “privileged” and without fear of having it used against you in a court of law. It is important to be able to get everything out there if parties are to fully understand each other. Most times, once parties have had a chance to fully discuss issues, resolution becomes a real possibility.

Mediation also allows parties to preserve important relationships. Whether your dispute is with  a valuable client, a supplier, a family member, or a close neighbor, disputes can be settled in a manner that keeps relationships intact.

We open the discussion in a way that helps bring parties together, promotes respect and common goals, and generates creative, unique ideas to resolve the dispute. If not confined to the parameters of a potential judgment from the court, parties are free to come up with their own, often unique solutions.

Significantly, mediation is timely and immediate. It’s also a fraction of the cost of litigation. With a flexible process, mediation can take a single day, or several days, depending on the parties’ preferences, or requests for “pre-mediation” discussions.

Litigation still optional?

Some are reluctant to give up the litigation option, fearing they will have to give up too much, make too great a compromise, or fail to resolve the dispute at all. Fortunately, you do not have to choose mediation to the exclusion of other options.

In fact, we encourage you to maintain your options, seek legal opinions on your position and start litigation if appropriate. You can try mediation at any time, whether before you begin a legal process, or within the context of it. If you are a corporation with in house counsel, or regular litigation counsel, you can and should maintain that tool; alongside it, you can send disputes to mediation to see if they can be resolved quickly and effectively. Not all disputes will require litigation, and you can save both time and money employing the parallel method. Even if mediation does not resolve the dispute, you are rarely worse off.

Mediations that do not fully resolve disputes frequently result in clarity of issues, improved communication and often partial solutions. You can then proceed to litigation with a streamlined case and with resolution closer at hand. This often means a more efficient, less protracted claim with correspondingly lower legal costs.

The mediation process

When you choose to mediate, both parties agree on a mediator. Your mediator is a neutral party, uniquely trained and skilled at facilitating settlements between parties. Each side prepares a summary of the issue which the mediator reviews. Everyone agrees to meet at a neutral location, usually a set of boardrooms, on an agreed upon date. What happens next is entirely flexible, and there lies the beauty of the process. Unlike litigation, you have input into the process that follows.

Often, the mediator will begin with an introduction, and invite each party to summarize why they are there.  At this point, relations are often strained, given that these two parties are in dispute, and sometimes in the midst of contentious litigation. Polite discussion seems only a remote possibility.

Quantum Mediators help start that discussion, and assist each side in taking part. A good mediator can get parties talking to each other, can help identify common goals, and ultimately find a resolution that works for all. Sometimes the mediator suggests taking breaks in separate rooms so the mediator can talk with each privately. The mediator brings the parties back together to talk about decisions they have made, or issues that remain problematic.

It is a collective effort.

Mediation fees

Quantum Mediators’ can bill by the half or full day mediation and rates are competitive. Please enquire with Renee Collins at or 604 619-5567.

Mediation seminars for lawyers

Ensure your lawyers are prepared to support their clients in mediation. In-house seminars that qualify for CPD credit are available for your firm. Please enquire with Renee Collins at or 604 619-5567.