Residential Real Estate Disputes in a Mandatory Mediation Setting: Second Draft
TO: PROFESSOR X
FROM: STUDENT Y
SUBJECT:'RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE DISPUTES IN A MANDATORY MEDIATION SETTING
Whether New York State should implement a mandatory mediation program for residential real estate transaction disputes.
Residential real estate transactions (RRET) also known as "closings" present a distinctive situation in which buyers and sellers come together in the sale of a home. Anticipation, fear, and anxiety are just some of the emotions associated with RRET. These emotions are also tied together with large sums of monies that are connected with RRET. Besides the money and emotions involved, a number of people including, attorneys and brokers for both the buyer and seller, and often an attorney for a mortgage company are also considered to be stakeholders.
The different emotions and number of people involved provides an excellent setting in which mediation can be used effectively to diffuse a hostile and emotionally charged dispute. Mediation provides the best atmosphere for RRET disputants to resolve their dispute. The advantages of mediation outweigh the disadvantages and provide ample evidence of mediation's ability to handle the unique situation that is inherent in RRET disputes.
There are a number of states that have already taken advantage of mediation process and put it to use in the RRET setting. These states have implemented court mandated mediation for RRET disputes. Though not mediation in the truest sense, these states have recognized an alternative to RRET litigation. By mandating mediation in RRET disputes, these states have realized the potential success such programs can have on not only for the court system implementing the policy, but also for attorneys and the disputants themselves.
II. What is ADR
Alternate dispute resolution (ADR) is an alternative to adjudication. Today many people are discovering the benefits ADR can provide. Businessmen and other professionals are discovering that ADR offers far more options and has a number of advantages when compared with traditional litigation. Today many businesses routinely include ADR clauses in their agreements. Likewise, lawyers, judges, and litigants are increasingly seeking to resolve their disputes outside the traditional litigation process.
The introduction of ADR has had a dramatic impact upon litigation practice in the United States. The past decade has seen a tremendous increase in the number of ADR programs nationwide. In 1980, there were approximately one hundred institutionalized ADR programs at state and local levels in the United States. By 1993, there were more than four hundred such programs. In some jurisdictions, ADR is now mandatory, while in other jurisdictions, judges have discretion in referring cases to ADR. Several jurisdictions provide for court-ordered mediation or arbitration upon motion of a party. Alternative dispute resolution is designed to resolve cases prior to trial, eliminating the costs and delays inherent in the litigation process. Gail M. Valentine-Rutledge, Mediation As A Trial Alternative: Effective Use of The ADR Rules, 57 Am. Jur. Trials 555 (2004).
Arbitration and mediation are the two basic methods of ADR. Arbitration is private litigation conducted outside the court system, where the parties agree by contract that a neutral arbitrator or panel of arbitrators will hear evidence and make a binding decision on the disputed claims. In essence this is private action brought in a private court by the parties. Arbitration can be more efficient and speedier than litigation, but it is not as quick as mediation. Yaroslav Sochynsky, Mediating Real Estate Disputes, 12–Aug Prob. & Prop. 22 (1998). Arbitration is distinguished from mediation in that it binds the parties to the decision of the arbitrator.
Mediation is the most common ADR technique in use today. In mediation, a neutral third-party assists the parties in resolving their dispute. Mediation is essentially a facilitated negotiation. A neutral mediator helps the parties negotiate an agreement for a binding resolution of their legal dispute. Mediation is unlike either arbitration or the adjudication process in that the role of the third party is not to impose a decision, but rather to assist the parties in reaching a settlement. Mediation is a voluntary process and neither side is required to accept a settlement. Ray D. Madoff, Mediating Probate Disputes: A Study of Court Sponsored Programs, 38 Real Prop. Prob. & Tr. J. 697 (2004). Mediation is distinguished from arbitration in that it only binds the parties to an agreement the parties themselves create, if they choose.
A. Advantages of Mediation
1. Creative Solutions
Mediation has several distinct advantages over litigation. While the litigation produces winners and losers, mediation allows the parties to creatively fashion a non-coercive resolution of their dispute in which both parties can benefit. Since the content of a mediated settlement need not be determined by the law of the jurisdiction where the mediation occurs, the mediation is not bound by past precedence or by the outcome of cases with similar facts in the past. Mediation allows for creativity that is not possible in the litigation process, and allows the parties to tailor the resolution to fit the particulars of their situation. Gail M. Valentine-Rutledge, Mediation As A Trial Alternative: Effective Use of The ADR Rules, 57 Am. Jur. Trials 555 (2004). Mediation agreements are created by the parties and limited only by their imagination, this allows for the potential of unique solutions that are entirely customized to each particular dispute.
2. Client Control
Litigation may and often does, produce fair and just results, however, the process is primarily controlled by attorneys. Clients often feel as though their wishes and desires are being ignored. Gail M. Valentine-Rutledge, Mediation As A Trial Alternative: Effective Use of The ADR Rules, 57 Am. Jur. Trials 555 (2004). This feeling is can be attributed to attorneys who control the process without enough client input. Though client input is required, attorneys find that the minimal information acquired is often sufficient for them to get the job done. In comparison, mediation allows the parties become active participants in resolving their case. Mediation affords its participants a far greater degree of flexibility and control over its resolution. This helps elevate the tension parties feel because of the dispute. Mediation allows for a place for participants to vent, and then move towards resolving the issues at hand.
3. Client Education
A thorough understanding of all aspects of a case is the first step toward successful resolution, and mediation is important as a means of conveying an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of a case to the client. Mediation forces a client to hear and consider an objective view of the case, which is often conveyed by the mediator. It forces a client to face the reality of his or her situation, including potential weaknesses. By providing an objective third-party viewpoint, a mediator is often able to soften client expectations more effectively than an attorney. By the same token, an effective mediator can also maximize the strengths of the case so that the opposing party is encouraged to view the case in its best possible light. The mediation process forces the parties to realistically evaluate their positions. Gail M. Valentine-Rutledge, Mediation As A Trial Alternative: Effective Use of The ADR Rules, 57 Am. Jur. Trials 555 (2004).
4. Cost and Time
The main advantage of mediation is that it saves the parties the time and expense of litigating. In many areas of the country, litigation of a case from the jury to the trial stage may take two or more years at a cost of thousands of dollars. Gail M. Valentine-Rutledge, Mediation As A Trial Alternative: Effective Use of The ADR Rules, 57 Am. Jur. Trials 555 (2004).The time and expense involved in litigation tend to make it a much less efficient means of dispute resolution than mediation. By avoiding these shortcomings it allows parties to focus on resolving a dispute, rather than "winning." The savings of both time and cost also allows the parties to move on with their lives and put the dispute behind them much sooner.
B. Disadvantages of Mediation
While mediation is an attractive alternative to trial in many cases because of numerous advantages it offers over litigation, it also has some disadvantages. Gail M. Valentine-Rutledge, Mediation As A Trial Alternative: Effective Use of The ADR Rules, 57 Am. Jur. Trials 555 (2004). The appearance of weakness is a prominent concern many attorneys have, because it may be interpreted as having a weak case or a mistaken willingness to settle. Forced mediation is also a concern that is often associated with mandatory mediation. Forced mediation can create an atmosphere of dislike toward the process and the people involved in the process.
1. Appearance of Weakness
Many attorneys believe that mediation is harmful to settlement negotiations because agreeing to mediate creates an appearance of being too eager to settle. To a certain extent, the fear that seeking mediation will create an appearance of weakness is unjustified and may be attributed to the general distrust which many lawyers display for processes outside the adversarial arena. However, this fear often inhibits the successful use of mediation. To the extent that one or both parties enter the mediation process tentatively or reluctantly, the possibility for meaningful progress toward settlement is diminished. Therefore, whether real or perceived, the fear of appearing weak in the eyes of opposing counsel by being the first to suggest mediation does work against the successful use of mediation and is, in that sense, a disadvantage of the process. Gail M. Valentine-Rutledge, Mediation As A Trial Alternative: Effective Use of The ADR Rules, 57 Am. Jur. Trials 555 (2004). However, this appearance of weakness in an adversarial process can be mitigated when confronted with a situation in which all parties involved are placed on equal footing by mandatory mediation.
2. Forced Mediation
A major hurdle that is encountered by mediator in mediation is having disputants who are not willing, ready, or able to accept the process. When a disputant does not have the prerequisite mindset mediation is bound to fail, regardless of the mediators experience and skill. Disputants who are unwilling to give mediation a chance often fall victim to the short comings of the process. Mediation is more likely to be successful when the parties are willing to listen to each other. Disputants who feel like they are being forced into mediation will sometimes close themselves to the outside, and ignore the position of the other party and even the mediator. David Sally, Yearn for Paradise, Live in Limbo: Optimal Frustration for ADR, 108 Penn St. L. Rev. 89 (Summer 2003). When this occurs, mediation is bound to be unsuccessful.
III Mediation as applied to Residential Real Estate Transactions
RRET disputes possess inherent elements that include; a large numbers of people involved, their interest in a successful outcome, the need to resolve the matter swiftly and efficiently, and the ability to tailor the outcome to meet the needs of the transaction. It is these elements that make RRET a prime candidate for mediation. However, like any dispute there are certain benefits and disadvantages that apply slightly differently in the RRET context.
A. Advantages of Mediation in RRET
1. Creative Solutions
This ability to create unique solutions is crucial to RRET disputants because the most common type of dispute revolves around non-disclosure. Steven J. Hirsh, Mediating Residential Real Estate Sales Disputes, 49 RI Bar Jnl. 23 (2001). Non-disclosure is typically when one party fails to provide information that the other believes to be important to the nature or affects the value of the transaction. For example, this would entail a seller not informing a buyer that the foundation in the house is cracked, knowing well that in fact the foundation is in fact cracked. In such situations the ability of the parties to create solutions is of vital importance. The buyer has already moved into, or is about to move into his/her new home and/or the seller has moved out, or is ready to move out. Neither party may want to have a court impose a decision, which neither may find acceptable. This is especially true if such a decision leaves the parties and their families wondering where they will be sleeping. Mediation allows the parties to meet and with the aid of a mediator and create solutions that are distinctive to the needs of the parties and the situation. The ability to create solutions makes it easier for RRET disputants to move on with their lives. There can be no unsatisfactory decision imposed on disputants in the mediation process. Both parties have the chance to come to a mutually acceptable resolution. In the non-disclosure context, the mediation usually plays out with both parties agreeing to some type of agreement which a court cannot grant them. Much of the time a buyer only wants some type of assurance or simply wants the seller to repair the problem. In litigation, it seems hard to imagine a judge granting such individualized relief for a buyer or seller. Mediation allows for such outcomes. Residential real estate can be unique and individualized, private homes pose unique challenges to buyers and sellers because of their distinctiveness. Having the ability to shape individualized solutions in such a setting can be vital to having a successful transaction "fall through."
2. Client Control
RRET disputes are intricate, in that there are a number of interested parties. Yaroslav Sochynsky, Mediating Real Estate Disputes, 16 NO. 2 GP Solo & Small Firm Law. 18 (1999). There are often a number of attorneys and brokers involved in a RRET, and all whom have a stake in the outcome of the dispute. In RRET, agents and lawyers insulate the buyers and sellers from each other. Steven J. Hirsh, Mediating Residential Real Estate Sales Disputes, 49 RI Bar Jnl. 23 (2001). This leaves both the buyer and seller feeling like they are not in control of the situation. This feeling leads to additional frustration and aggravates the matter because clients are only communicating directly with their own attorneys and their attorneys are only communicating directly with the attorney for the opposing side, which can lead to further alienation of client understanding and control over the process. Client control in RRET disputes can help remove or in the least limit the influence these external forces have on the client. Through mediation, the seller and buyer can discuss the dispute without the pressures of lawyers and brokers. In essence they, the seller and buyer, not the attorneys and brokers, are in complete control of the discussions and eventually the outcome of the mediation. This is an important advantage of mediation has over litigation, especially in the RRET setting. It is usually in the best interest of all the parties to settle disputes as quickly as possible, attorneys and brokers are waiting for the transaction to be completed so they can get paid. By removing the attorneys and brokers from the dispute both parties are more likely to come to mediation ready and willing to negotiate and thereby, coming to a quicker resolution.
3. Client Education
Mediation, and specifically client education, plays an intricate role in RRET. First, it allows the parties to hear and consider an objective view of the case. The emotionally charged setting of an RRET dispute provides the perfect arena for a mediator to aid the disputants to hear each others side of the story. By facilitating a controlled discussion, a mediator can help the parties put their emotions to the side and tackle the issues in a rational manner. Secondly, a mediator can objectively help RRET disputants realize any potential weaknesses and strengths of their case. In RRET, it is often a minor issue that needs to be resolved, but because there is no client education, often these minor issues turn into large complex litigation cases. The mediator serves as a reality check for the expectations of the parties. For example, a buyer, who has a leaky facet, will probably be told by the mediator that the seller is not going to build a new bathroom, because of a leaky facet. Finally, the mediation process allows the disputants to evaluate their own positions it allows them to realize that what they may be asking as an award may be unrealistic and or unreasonable. Taken together, these aspects of client education can help the disputants resolve the disputes in a meaningful and effective manner. In RRET disputes communication is vital to resolving a dispute, and the client education offered by a mediator through the mediation process is one way to ensure that the parties gain this insight and better understand their individual position and the position of the other side.
4. Cost and Time
The most important benefit to RRET disputes that mediation can provide is the benefit realized in terms of saving time and money. Real estate litigation can be time-consuming and costly. Real estate cases usually involve extensive negotiations, sophisticated economic issues and voluminous documents. Yaroslav Sochynsky, Mediating Real Estate Disputes, 16 NO. 2 GP Solo & Small Firm Law. 18 (1999). Litigation, with its inherent time delays, is the worst enemy to parties desiring to move into or out of a residence. Very few people are willing to put their life on hold while they wait for a trial. A prompt process providing both parties the ability to air their concerns and design a resolution keeps a residential real estate transaction on track. Steven J. Hirsh, Mediating Residential Real Estate Sales Disputes, 49 RI Bar Jnl. 23 (2001). The worst thing a buyer or seller of a home wants to find out is that they are locked into a lengthy litigation battle and will be forced to stay where they are. Moving in or out of a home is usually not a joyful experience, the hassle of packing is a tremendous task in itself. The disruption of everyday life is what litigation in RRET disputes brings with it. It is in the interest of both the buyer and seller to resolve any dispute as soon as possible. Mediation offers the perfect solution for these disputants. In addition, because RRET involves so many parties, the benefit of saving time is not only an advantage for the buyer and seller but this advantage also affects lawyers and other agents involved in the transaction.
B. Disadvantages of Mediation in RRET
1. Appearance of Weakness
In RRET disputes like any other type of dispute going to mediation, a willingness to sit down and discuss the problem can give an appearance of weakness. In RRET, because of the amount of money, number of people and emotions involved this can be taken as a sign of weakness, if not by the disputant, by the attorney representing the disputant. It is another example of the external forces that are at work in a RRET. A disputant who never has the chance to speak directly with the other party and relies solely on what their attorney tells them can easily be persuaded into agreeing with the attorney. The willingness to mediate should not be taken as a sign of weakness, instead should be taken a sign of good faith to resolve the disagreement. However, because many clients speak to their attorneys before they speak to anyone else, it is the attorneys who have the most influence on whether or not they advise their clients to mediate the dispute.
2. Forced Mediation
Forced mediation and the pitfalls that it brings with it are the highest hurdle mediation has to over come. If parties are not ready to accept the process of mediation, they are likely to resist everything that is offered to them from the mediator. In the RRET disputes this applies as it does in any other types of dispute. If the buyer and seller seem like they are being forced to enter into mediation and react in a hostile and aggressive manner toward each other, the mediator and the process, the process is likely not to succeed. RRET poses an additional challenge because of the diversity of the parties involved. Attorneys who are biased against the mediation process are likely to advise their clients to avoid mediation, because litigation is available. These attorneys believe mediation to be a waste of their time and the client's time. However, this short coming may in fact be all the more reason mediation should be used as a first step in a RRET dispute.
IV Court Mandated Mediation
In order to ease congestion in court calendars, a number of states have adopted a system whereby all civil actions (including RRET disputes) where the plaintiff seeks recovery for less than a stated amount and noticed for trial in the county courts or other courts of first instance are referred to a panel of arbitrators. Many of these ADR programs the courts have retained discretion, stating that because not all types of cases are amenable to mediation some are not permitted to go to mediation. Constitutional cases or certain cases that are not amenable, for emotional reasons, such as lawsuits against police officers for brutality or prisoner complaints are usually excluded as well. James J. Brearton, Kathy E. Hinck, & Elizabeth Lott, Alternative Dispute Resolution: Application to Particular Disputes, 4 Am. Jur. 2d Alternative Dispute Resolution §24 (May 2004).
The states that have institutionalized some type of ADR programs are the ideal places to examine whether or not New York should implement such a program. These states have addressed many of the issues that New York State needs to take into account when deciding whether mandatory mediation can create the same benefits for New York. Examining these programs, though they may not be RRET related can shed light on the ways a mandatory mediation program may be good for New York State. Along with these programs a number of concerns have been raised, once addressed they will also allow a more complete analysis of exactly what kind of opposition and criticism such a program in New York many face.
One major concern that attorneys have when told to advise their clients to mediate is that negotiations and mediation can be seen as a sign of weakness by opposing counsel. However, when a court orders or mandates mediation, there is no reason for an attorney to fear his opposing counsel will think that his/her case is a weak one because it no longer a voluntary decision. In addition, mediation also allows for attorneys to begin the discovery process informally. An attorney can get leads for discovery and ideas about how the other side may present their case, this can in turn speed up the actual trial if there is a need for a trial.
Mediation should be mandated is because it offers clients control. Litigants who were surveyed in a North Carolina program stated that when the attorney was there only for legal advice they were far more satisfied with the process and outcome, 75% stated satisfaction. This was different when the attorney spoke on behalf of the client and the client only listened, in this situation only 25% stated satisfaction. Elizabeth E. Gordon, Why Attorneys Support Mandatory Mediation, 82 Judicature 224 (March 1999). This reiterates clients need to be heard. 78% of clients who attended mediation stated that they had a chance to tell their side of the story. Once a client has vented through storytelling he is more willing to negotiate and settle. Allowing a client to speak his/her mind allows them to understand the viewpoint of the opposing side and also help initiate negotiations. An often cited statistic is that 80% of disputes submitted to mediation are resolved.
A. Successful Court Mandated Programs
Numerous states have enacted compulsory procedures for the resolution of medical malpractice actions, including screening panels and compulsory arbitration. Medical malpractice and a RRET dispute do share one facet, both are civil law suits. Of states that have implemented some sort of ADR program, none was specifically created for RRET. It is therefore important to look at any successful ADR program implemented that has affected civil litigation. Of the states with such a program, in at least one jurisdiction, a "mediation" system has been adopted which is similar to compulsory arbitration. The system is used to determine damages in tort cases in which liability is acknowledged and assigns the determination of damages to a panel consisting of a judge and two lawyers. Similarly, the process called mediation in federal courts in Michigan has been construed as "mandatory conciliation" in cases designated by the court. In this program if conciliation fails, the parties select an attorney-mediator to assist the parties in resolving their dispute. James J. Brearton, Kathy E. Hinck, & Elizabeth Lott, Alternative Dispute Resolution: Application to Particular Disputes, 4 Am. Jur. 2d Alternative Dispute Resolution §47 (May 2004). Though the Michigan program described is not mediation in a true sense, there is still some value in examining any mandatory ADR program.
There are a number of successful programs that have mandated some form of ADR. Arizona implemented a program in 1991. Jona Goldschmidt & Michael Hallett, Balancing Act: Implementing a Statewide, Court-Sponsored ADR Program, 80 Judicature 222 (April 1997). Likewise, North Carolina also started a Mediated Settlement Conference Pilot Program in 1992. Elizabeth E. Gordon, Why Attorneys Support Mandatory Mediation, 82 Judicature 224 (March 1999). North Carolina's program required that the plaintiff claim at least $10,000.00 in damages. These parties were ordered to a mandatory settlement conference, and to settle or go to trial if the conference was unsuccessful. Though many of the cases that went through this program involved negligence claims or contract disputes, the program was open to all disputes.
B. Court Mandated Mediation in RRET Disputes
RRET disputes are very unique and different from many other disputes. First, there are a large number of parties who have a stake in the outcome of the dispute. Secondly, they usually involve a large sum of money. Thirdly, buyers and sellers both want to move out of the old residence into a new residence. It is these characteristics that need to be taken into account to determine if mandatory mediation will benefit the parties involved in such a dispute, and whether it will benefit a court system enough for it to mandate mediation in such a setting. An implementing body will need to consider carefully these characters when implementing a court mandated mediation system.
A typical RRET involves a Purchase and Sale Agreement, once this document is executed, the parties perceive this transaction more as an agreement that the seller will move out and the buyer will move in. Buyers and sellers of residential real estate want to move out and into their new home. The last thing buyers and seller want is to delay moving day, or worse having the deal collapse. Litigation does not serve the goal of these types of disputants, speed. Litigation can not give the parties the result they are seeking, however a mediator can. Lawyers often shy away from the benefits mediation can offer.
Mediation is particularly suited for resolving residential real estate disputes, because of its speed, low costs. No buyer and seller wishes to wait and put their life on hold while they wait for trial. The mediation process provides both parties to come to consensus quickly and move on with their lives.
Many lawyers have been reluctant to steer their client in the direction of ADR. It has been suggested that since attorneys are trained in the adversarial system which requires staunch advocacy and aggressiveness, their orientation is basically incompatible with mediation and negotiation. In addition, attorneys may feel threatened by mediation as a possibly reducing their income and future client base. James J. Brearton, Kathy E. Hinck, & Elizabeth Lott, Alternative Dispute Resolution: Application to Particular Disputes, 4 Am. Jur. 2d Alternative Dispute Resolution §5 (May 2004). In RRET disputes nothing can be farther from the truth. Lawyers and agents themselves have a stake. Every attorney should realize the benefits that mediation can bring to this type of dispute. Mediation allows the parties to participate directly, without the external effects of lawyers, brokers, and other agents. This allows the disputing parties to improve communication with the aid of a mediator.
These are only some of the misconceptions that can be overcome once mediation has been mandated. Residential real estate disputes are settled out of court roughly 72% of the time. Mandatory mediation can provide attorneys with the motivation and structure needed to settle cases earlier. The usual negotiation involves a few phone calls, letters, and meetings with the client, sometimes with the opposing counsel. This process is usually quite long, each side taking longer than necessary to get the other side to budge. With a trial date set, few attorneys are willing to settle until the trial date comes near. This strategy is counter-productive to the needs of residential real estate transaction disputants. Mandatory mediation can provide attorneys with a significant event around which negotiations can occur. Deadlines tend to facilitate settlements. Mandatory mediation can provide a deadline that is in advance of the trial date.
C. Court Mandated Mediation in New York
New York does not have any such program for RRET disputes. In New York, if the parties wish to go to mediation they must find a mediator on their own, this removes their case from the courts and essentially has the disputants deal with it as they wish. Parties are forced to find their own mediator, and this is only the case if both parties are in agreement on whether they wish to mediate.
New York is a large bustling state. The number of RRET that take place in New York City alone on any given day may likely outnumber the number of such transactions in some smaller states. Because of the sheer volume of cases that pass through the New York court system daily, and the back log that has been created by the number of cases, New York is an ideal state in which court mandated mediation should be implemented. The potential disadvantages of mediation are clearly outweighed by the advantages that a mandatory mediation program can create in New York.
There are many critics who oppose mandatory mediation. Like the critics that have been silenced in other states that have successfully implemented such programs, New York can also successfully silence such critics. The number of successful mediations that have resulted through mandatory mediation programs would never have even been considered for mediation let alone have been successful if not for the mandate by the courts.
Implementing a mandatory mediation process as a first step to litigation can only help the concerns that courts have. Mandated mediation serves the courts by freeing up the overflowing docket. This allows the courts to concentrate on cases that deal with complex issues of law and policy, in other words cases that are not mediatable. Mediation helps the disputants realize savings in cost and time. It also allows the parties a chance to be heard, and affords them the ability to control the process. Mediation, unlike arbitration, only allows for agreement when both parties are in agreement. Mediation provides a win-win process for all parties, and the disadvantages of mediation are miniscule when compared to the benefits that mediation can provide. By mandating mediation as a first step to litigation courts have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
New York should follow in the footsteps in many other states and implement a mandatory mediation plan for residential real estate transaction disputes. North Carolina's mandatory program results show that before the program was mandated the majority of attorneys practicing in the state opposed the program. Once the program was mandated the views of these attorneys shifted. Statistically, after the program was in place attorneys stated that 83% of the time mediation is usually or always appropriate for real property disputes. They also stated that mediation speed up the discovery process, knowledge that mediation is pending encourages settlement sooner that would otherwise happen, most mediator were fair, and finally that mediation gave the litigant greater control over the outcome of the case.
The question now becomes if there is so much to gain from mandatory mediation, why hasn't it become mandatory by New York State. There is no reason for courts not to implement such a mandate. The resistance such a program faces stems from attorneys and real estate brokers who see themselves as having the most to lose. However, using other states such as Arizona and North Carolina as an example, many opponents of mandatory mediation will see that once such a program is mandated there is not thing to lose. It is a win-win situation for all the parties involved.