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Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method with a neutral person helping the parties find a solution to their dispute. The neutral party is known as a mediator. Mediation may also be called case evaluation or facilitated negotiation.

Since mediation is less rigid than both litigation and arbitration, it allows for creative techniques that would not be acceptable in other settings. For instance, a mediator can speak ex parte with each side to find mutually acceptable solutions that might not otherwise emerge. 

Importantly, a mediator does not usually make a decision on the merits of the case, instead acting merely to facilitate settlement discussions. Mediation is non-binding and a resolution may not be imposed upon the parties. If the parties cannot reach an agreement then the mediation process terminates and the parties may pursue their claims in court or other forms of dispute resolution.

In international law, mediation refers to a neutral country helping two other countries peacefully resolve their disputes.

[Last updated in July of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]