This information is to assist any party taking part in mediation in respect of any claim brought in the Petty Debts Court. It applies whether a party has brought the claim or is facing proceedings.
Mediation is a process where the parties to a dispute sit down with an independent person who is the mediator to discuss the problem to help the parties try to find a solution. The mediation process does not affect any parties' rights to argue their case in Court should the matter not settle.
The discussions that take place are confidential and cannot be referred at any time in later Court proceedings if the matter does not settle.
At the first hearing of the proceedings and at any subsequent hearing, the Court will usually direct that the proceedings be adjourned for mediation unless there is good reason not to do so.
The date, place and time for the mediation will be fixed immediately by the Court and will usually take place within two to three weeks (on a Tuesday afternoon or Friday morning).
The Court may require the parties to the proceedings, to each provide the Court before the mediation with a brief written statement of their case in relation to the proceedings, and/or documents, which are relevant to the dispute. This is for the mediator and the parties only
The mediator, is a Relief Magistrate who, in the event of the dispute not being resolved, will take no further part in the proceedings.
Any party to the proceedings may be represented at the mediation by a legal adviser or may, with the leave of the mediator, be assisted at the mediation by a friend. However, any party attending with a lawyer does so at their own expense. Any charges of the lawyer cannot be recovered from the other party.
If any party to the proceedings does not attend the mediation at the correct time, the mediator may dismiss the claim or give judgement against the party who fails to attend. This is in the same way that the Petty Debts Court may dismiss a claim or give judgement at the first presentation of the proceedings before the Court, if a party had failed to appear.
At the mediation each of the parties to the proceedings will be expected to speak about their case. It is preferable for this to be done by the party themselves rather than anyone else.
The mediator will inquire into the nature of the dispute and may ask questions. They are there to assist the parties to the proceedings to reach an agreement by way of settlement of the proceedings. The mediator will not however decide or rule on the merits of the dispute or express a view as to who is right or wrong.
If a settlement is reached then the mediator will record the terms in writing. The parties will each sign this record and will receive a copy. If the settlement involves the payment of a sum of money then the date by which any sum will be paid will be recorded.
Any settlement is a private agreement resolving the dispute and is a legal contract. However, it does not result in any Court judgment. It is only if a party does not keep to the terms of the agreement, can the other party apply for a judgment.
If no agreed settlement is reached between the parties or, in the view of the mediator, a settlement will not be reached within a reasonable time, the mediator will then give directions to require each party to set out their formal case in writing by a specified date. He will also refer the case back to the Court for further directions.
A copy of any directions given by the mediator will be provided to each party either at the mediation itself or within 1 week of the mediation.