Thursday, March 30, 2006

MEAC Opinion 2005-005 Now Online!

Here’s a summary of MEAC Opinion 2005-005 which addresses a confidentiality inquiry in the context of a grievance involving a mediator in a court based mediation unit. A conflict issue is also discussed.

1. While a mediation unit is not a mediator per se, many of the communications made to the mediation unit would be included under the umbrella of confidentiality. Each co-mediator is to be treated as a mediator subject to the Florida Mediation Confidentiality and Privilege Act. The Committee declines to answer the question whether the party breached confidentiality as being beyond its jurisdiction.

2 and 3. Assuming the party has affirmatively requested that the complaint be handled at the trial court level, the mediator may reveal mediation communications to the mediation office charged with investigating the conduct.

4. Revelations made by a mediator in furtherance of a grievance investigation should be kept in a separate file independent from the court file.

5. The relationship described in the question would not necessarily be a “clear conflict” requiring the withdrawal of the mediator regardless of the express agreement of the parties. However, if the mediator is no longer impartial or the parties request that the mediator no longer continue, the mediator is required to withdraw from the mediation.

6. A different mediator within the mediation unit may mediate if all parties, being aware of the relationship, are agreeable to proceeding.

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