Caucuses are typically the second stage of the mediation process. The caucus portion of mediation can take anywhere from hours to months. It depends on the complexity of the case and how far apart the two parties are.
They follow a joint session in which the parties discuss the issue at hand with the mediator and bring them up to speed. Caucuses allow each side to meet individually with the mediator to discuss their sides of the matter, what they hope to attain and what terms they’re willing to agree to.
Confidentiality and freedom to speak openly
The information shared with a mediator in a caucus is confidential and can’t be shared with the other party to the mediation without permission. One valuable aspect of caucuses is being able to divulge information to the mediator that you don’t want the other side to know.
A mediator will go back and forth, caucusing with each party as they get closer to a resolution. Part of a mediator’s job is to make sure that each party understands the other’s point of view. They can feel free to acknowledge the other side’s concerns without fearing that it will be used against them.
Understanding the other party’s point of view
Caucusing also helps ensure that each side is understanding the other correctly. Too often, people mishear or misunderstand what the other party has to say. This can harm their ability to reach a resolution. Having a mediator who can clarify each party’s position to the other can certainly help bring about a resolution without wasting time talking past one another. All of this helps both sides return to the table to finalize their agreement with a clear understanding not only of what they want but of what the other party will agree to.
Unlike litigated cases, which can be adversarial by nature, mediation allows both sides to work with a professional who’s trained to turn down the temperature, so to speak. It may help to know that about 80% of all mediated disputes end in a resolution. Having an experienced mediator can be the key to resolving the matter in a way that is agreeable to both sides.