The Effectiveness of Using Mediation in Selected Civil Law Disputes: A Meta-Analysis

1. Introduction

Mediation is the process where an impartial party with no decision-making power intervenes between contending parties for the purpose of assisting them to reconcile, narrow, or settle a legal dispute. Proponents have identified mediation as a less adversarial alternative to court that can reduce costs, improve fairness and satisfaction.

The Dispute Prevention Resolution Services of the Civil Litigation Division of the Department of Justice Canada are in the process of developing a pilot project in the area of mediation. This pilot project, called the Early Resolution Option (ERO), intends to reduce the time and costs associated with settling tort claims. The pilot project would make mediation mandatory for certain tort claims brought against the federal government. The development of this pilot project is directly linked to the corporate priority of "Managing the Volume of Litigation".

This research was undertaken to support the development of the ERO pilot project, and assist with associated evaluation activities and business planning. The research and pilot project represent an investment in the future development of innovative ways to prevent or reduce the volume of litigation and develop appropriate dispute resolution instruments, policies and legislation, while also facilitating access to justice.

The objective of this meta-analysis is to quantitatively summarize the literature in comparable jurisdictions on the effectiveness of mediation in selected civil law matters. Particular areas for analysis will be possible financial savings through mediation programs, speedier resolution, and the increased satisfaction of parties (including cost effectiveness, plaintiff and defendant satisfaction, and procedural fairness).

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