“People involved in civil lawsuits prefer mediation to nonbinding arbitration”. That finding by a law professor from University of California, Davis, is no surprise to me, nor probably to many other mediators.
In my opinion this is valuable information for lawyers seeking to provide the legal services most valuable to their clients. It is also worth consideration for civil courts seeking to offer alternatives to trial which are most helpful for the people involved in lawsuits.
In the study the clear preference of over 400 litigants from 19 US states was for mediation over nonbinding arbitration. "This finding helps to resolve a long-standing debate over which of the two procedures litigants prefer," according to the researcher, Donna Shestowsky.
The study also found that the litigants preferred to have their lawyers conduct negotiations with the litigants present rather than negotiate between the lawyers only.
It is likely that a study of litigants in Canada would have similar results. The preference to be involved with their lawyers in negotiations seems to match well with the preference for mediation.
Mediation and nonbinding arbitration are very common alternatives to trial. Forms of nonbinding arbitration may be called mini-trial or early neutral evaluation. The distinction is that a mediator will help the parties negotiate to find a resolution acceptable to each of them. The arbitrator is not involved in the negotiations and provides only an opinion of liability and, if applicable, of the amount of damages.