Mediation is an informal process where a mediator helps people with a dispute reach an agreement. The mediation process identifies important issues, clarifies misunderstandings, and negotiates settlement.
The mediator is not a judge and does not make a decision or impose a solution on the dispute. Rather, the mediator helps those involved in the dispute talk to each other, thereby allowing them to resolve the dispute themselves. The mediator manages the mediation session and remains impartial.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a comparatively new legal process. It is recognized as a way to reduce delay, reduce cost, and increase consumer satisfaction in the outcome of their disputes. In 1992, the Tennessee Supreme Court created a commission to study dispute resolution in Tennessee "with a view toward the use and implementation of procedures to expedite and enhance the efforts of the courts to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of disputes."
The recommendations of the 1992 commission resulted in the enactment of Supreme Court Rule 31 in January 1996 to establish court-based alternative dispute resolution on a statewide basis. Rule 31 created a system where litigants, courts, and attorneys can locate qualified alternative dispute resolution mediators and other neutrals and enlist their assistance in resolving matters pending before courts of record.