While many lawsuits settle prior to trial, many cases may proceed to the eleventh hour of litigation, just prior to trial, to settle. Though litigation may involve years of depositions, written discovery (questions and sworn answers regarding claims), and motion practice, the parties rarely, if ever, have a chance to sit down face-to-face with their opponents and try to resolve their case. Yet often this can be the best way for the parties to come to a resolution. This is why New Jersey courts have been so supportive of mediations.
Indeed, in many cases, the Court will require the parties to attempt to settle their dispute through mediation. When requiring the parties to attend court-ordered mediation, the court will initially assign the parties a mediator who has been approved by the court – meaning he or she has received the requisite mediation training.
However, the parties may also agree to select their own, mutually agreed upon mediator. This may occur if the parties believe that certain legal issues exist that the assigned mediator has insufficient knowledge of or experience with, or if there is some conflict or other relationship between the mediator and a party that makes it inappropriate for the mediator to be involved in the matter. If the court does not order the parties to mediate, the parties may still agree on their own to mediate the matter and may ask the court for a referral to mediation or simply have their own mediator.