About Dispute Resolution
An Effective Approach to Resolving Disputes
Dispute Resolution is an effective way to rapidly resolve conflict using a neutral, third-party intermediary. It is an ideal solution for people who are committed to preserving their relationship, want to be equally involved in resolving the conflict, and have tried but failed to resolve their issues on their own.
Also known as mediation, dispute resolution is a private and voluntary process that brings together the parties in a conflict with a trained, impartial mediator, who gives them the practical tools they need to:
- Have difficult conversations
- Identify the sources of their conflict
- Clarify their point of view and what’s important to them
- Understand the other party’s point of view and what’s important to them
- Explore solutions together
- Make decisions that meet the needs of all parties
- Resolve the conflict and preserve the relationship
- Apply the same process to resolve any future conflicts
The process encompasses four stages:
Stage 1: Each person tells the story that reflects their point of view and reveals their underlying interests.
Stage 2: Together, the parties prioritize the issues to be discussed.
Stage 3: The parties work together to brainstorm ideas and create solutions for the problem.
Stage 4: The parties settle on a plan of action that resolves the dispute.
Depending on the issue and the number of parties involved, the process may range from a half-day session to a full-day session or several days of sessions to achieve resolution.
Cancellations and Refunds
If a session does not take place, all but $100 of the fees will be refunded to the person(s) who paid them.
If a party needs to cancel and reset a session after all parties have received a confirmation letter stating the agreed time and date, the Dispute Resolution mediator will reset the date and time only after the canceling party pays a rescheduling fee of $25.
If the session does not take place due circumstances beyond Sharon’s control, she will refund all fees and owe no other liability.
Coming to a session to resolve a conflict well-prepared not only saves time , it also increases the odds that the dispute will be amicably resolved.
Sharon encourages all participants to prepare for the session by organizing their thoughts and compiling any relevant documents or materials:
- Define and analyze the issues requiring Dispute Resolution mediation.
- Recognize the parameters of the situation. What can be realistically expected? What time constraints come into play? What are the available resources? What are the legal ramifications surrounding the issue? What business or trade practices are in dispute? What about costs or other financial factors?
- Identify your needs and interests in settling the matter. What do you expect from the process?
- Prioritize the issues in light of your expectations. Which issues are most important? Which issues are least important?
- Gather and prepare facts, documents, and sound reasoning to support your claims or position.
- Ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
- Propose several solutions. Make your proposals reasonable and legitimate, and be willing to discuss the possibility of satisfying the needs of the other party.
- At least 10 days before your session, provide Sharon with a brief summary of the relevant data, and any requests for additional people to attend. This summary information will not be shared with the other party without your consent.
Before resolution begins, all parties must download and sign Sharon Dolak’s Dispute Resolution Agreement and bring it with them to the session. This document details what is included in her fees and includes additional information about certain rules related to the proceedings.
If you have questions about the Agreement, please contact Sharon.
Privacy and Confidentiality
What happens in your session will be kept private and confidential, as will any records or documents Sharon receives or creates. Neither Sharon nor anyone on her staff can be compelled to divulge these records or to testify in court or arbitration about your dispute resolution session.
Only authorized parties will attend the Dispute Resolution session, and they, too, must keep all proceedings and documents confidential. None of the other party’s views, suggestions, admissions, suggestions, or willingness to accept a resolution can be relied on or introduced as evidence in arbitration or court.
If an individual violates this agreement, he or she must pay all fees and expenses incurred by Sharon and her staff, as well as any other parties, including reasonable attorney fees incurred in opposing efforts to compel testimony or records.
Once Dispute Resolution mediation is completed, Sharon is not responsible for enforcing confidentiality, except for the people or files under her direct control. The involved parties are responsible for enforcing this confidentiality provision for themselves.
Definition of Dispute Resolution Mediation
For the purpose of these sessions, dispute resolution mediation is defined as a forum in which an impartial person – the mediator – facilitates communications between parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or understanding among them.
Role and Authority of the Dispute Resolution Mediator
The mediator will remain objective and will not impose her own judgment on the issues or that of the parties.
She does not have the authority to impose a settlement on the parties, but will facilitate discussions and negotiations between the parties, and may suggest options to assist the parties in reaching a satisfactory resolution to the dispute.
The mediator is responsible for maintaining the proper conduct of the Dispute Resolution mediation and will start the session, keep order, provide breaks, conduct separate private meetings with each party, and end the session.
The mediator has the authority to expel individuals from the session who are being disruptive or counterproductive to the process, and can recess the session to enable any individual, who is not present but necessary to achieving a settlement, to be contacted or brought to the session.
The mediator can also end the Dispute Resolution mediation if she believes that continued discussion will not be productive to settling all or part of the dispute.
Conditions for Serving as Dispute Resolution Mediator
The Dispute Resolution mediator will not serve in any dispute in which she has any financial or personal interest in the result of the session. She will disclose any relationship to:
- Any party to the dispute
- Any opinion of the dispute
- Any individual connected with the dispute
- Any other circumstance or information likely to create an impression of bias toward, or conflict of interest in, either party or issue in the dispute
The parties may arrange for experts to provide advice during the session concerning technical aspects of the dispute, if the parties have agreed beforehand and have agreed to pay the cost.
The parties must make arrangements for obtaining expert witnesses and coordinate their participation with the mediator before the scheduled date of Dispute Resolution mediation. This allows all parties to give approval before the session.
The parties are responsible for negotiating any settlement to the dispute. The Dispute Resolution mediator will not and cannot impose a settlement in a case. The mediator will, however, make every effort to facilitate the negotiations of the parties.
The mediator does not and cannot guarantee the process will result in a settlement of the dispute.
Authority of Representatives
If named parties to the dispute are unable to attend the session and send representatives, these representatives must have all necessary authority to negotiate and settle the case.
The parties must provide complete contact information for all such individuals, in writing, to the mediator along with the letter requesting Dispute Resolution mediation.
Time and Place of Dispute Resolution Mediation
The mediator, in coordination with the parties, will set the time, date, and place of each session.
Identification of Matters in Dispute
To initiate scheduling a case, disputing parties must each provide the mediator with a completed Request for Dispute Resolution Services form, including a brief description of the nature of the conflict and the position of the party regarding the issues to be resolved.
No Record of the Session(s)
No stenographic, audiotape or videotape record, or any other means of recording the Dispute Resolution mediation session, shall be made.
All notes will be made on the colored forms provided by the mediator. At the conclusion of all necessary sessions, these will be collected and destroyed by the mediator.
Termination of Dispute Resolution Sessions
The Dispute Resolution mediation sessions will be terminated by the:
- Execution of a settlement agreement, or Memorandum of Understanding, by the parties, or
- The mediator’s declaration that further efforts are not expected to be worthwhile.
All ancillary expenses related to the sessions, such as witness’ fees and expenses and the cost of any proofs or expert advice, will be paid by the party that produces them. If the mediator requests these services and expenses, and the parties agree to provide them, the parties will split the costs for these services equally, unless they agree otherwise.
No Weapons Allowed
No one, including disputing parties, is allowed to bring weapons to sessions, including firearms, knives, mace or other spray deterrents, or any other object intended for use as a weapon. The parties consent to search or scanning with a metal detector of their person and belongings. Discovery of any weapon(s) will postpone the Dispute Resolution mediation until they are removed from the site.
Interpretation and Application of Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines
The mediator will interpret and apply these rules.