Mediation Disadvantages

What is mediation? Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process in which two or more parties meet with a mediator to resolve their differences and come to an agreeable solution to the problem, such as marital settlement agreements. The mediator is an outside party, hired by the group involved, who advises each side and helps the session come to an end as quickly as possible, which is one of main potential advantages and disadvantages of mediation that a given party may find. The mediator does not render a verdict in favor of one side or the other. During the alternative dispute resolution process, the decision is made by the parties involved and no one else. There are disadvantages of mediation, much like the commonly cited arbitration disadvantages, that lead people in disagreements to use other options for solving their problems such as litigation.


Mediation is an extremely quick process or it can be an extremely quick process if the parties involved make it quick. Why? There is no judge, no court date and no lawyers involved. Because the parties involved with mediation make their own decision on the outcome, this makes the process quite quick. For some people, they don't want to rush themselves into a quick decision and would rather take their time. If so, mediation is not the answer.

Having a Lawyer

Mediation does not require a lawyer to be present during one or more of the sessions. Instead, if the parties involved wish to have their lawyer present it must be approved by the other party in the case. Many people, when negotiating a settlement, want their lawyer present at all times. Litigation requires the presence of a lawyer or attorney. With mediation, only a mediator is required.

The Agreement Is Legally Binding

Even though there are normally no lawyers present at mediation, the agreement between the parties involved is legally binding in most judicial systems. The agreement is documented with the written word. Because there are no lawyers present, some people might be hesitant to sign the agreement without having their lawyer review it.

Anything can be Mediated

With mediation, anything can be mediated. That means the smallest of disagreements, such as, a dispute over a water bill can be mediated. There is no limitation on the amount of money involved in mediation or the topic that is being mediated. As long as the topic does not require statutory, judicial or regulatory case law to resolve, then it can be mediated.

The Mediator Is an Outside Party

With mediation, the mediator that is hired is an outside party. He or she has no previous knowledge of the case and has never previously met the parties involved. This can be somewhat of a hindrance in the process. A lawyer usually has some knowledge of the case and more than likely knows the party or parties involved because that lawyer has been working with that party for a couple of years.

There Is No Judge

Most people that want to settle an argument or disagreement use litigation because they want the end result to come from a judge. In mediation, the mediator does not render a verdict in favor of one side or the other. In litigation, the judge reviews each side of the case and then makes an informed decision. Granted, one side is not happy because they lost and the other side is satisfied because they won. In mediation, it is a win-win situation but not everyone leaves happy.

Either Party Can Withdraw

Another disadvantage of mediation is that either party can withdraw from the proceedings at any time. In litigation, the only party that can withdraw is the plaintiff, if they drop the suit. This means that even the party that is ‘at fault,' can withdraw if they are not happy with where the mediation process is headed.