Thursday, March 31, 2005

A $300,000 “Success Bonus” for a 5 Day Mediation – A Whaaat!?!?!?

Wait a minute – we know that mediators cannot charge a contingency fee. Florida Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators, Rule 10.380(f) in unmistakable English states:

Contingency Fees Prohibited. A mediator shall not charge a contingent fee or base a fee on the outcome of the process.

So, what’s this “success bonus” all about? For starters, that wasn’t the type of fee claimed by the mediator [I know, you’re relieved]. According to this article in the Connecticut Law Tribune, a client sued his lawyer [that’s right, the lawyer claimed entitlement to the “success bonus”] in Federal court to recover fees paid to the lawyer arising from the client’s five-day “pressure cooker” divorce mediation.

Read the article, envision you were the mediator and observed the mediation conduct as was reported, and then think about what you would, or would not, do? Also, give some thought to the confidentiality of mediation communications and the application of Florida's “Mediation Confidentiality and Privilege Act”, F.S. 44.401-44.406. Would any exceptions apply in this case?

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