(A) Scope and Applicability of Rule; Definitions.
(1) This rule applies to cases that the court refers to mediation as provided in MCR 2.410. MCR 3.216 governs mediation of domestic relations cases.
(2) “Mediation” is a process in which a neutral third party facilitates communication between parties, assists in identifying issues, and helps explore solutions to promote a mutually acceptable settlement. A mediator has no authoritative decision-making power.
(B) Selection of Mediator.
(1) The parties may stipulate to the selection of a mediator. A mediator selected by agreement of the parties need not meet the qualifications set forth in subrule (F). The court must appoint a mediator stipulated to by the parties, provided the mediator is willing to serve within a period that would not interfere with the court's scheduling of the case for trial.
(2) If the order referring the case to mediation does not specify a mediator, the order shall set the date by which the parties are to have conferred on the selection of a mediator. If the parties do not advise the ADR clerk of the mediator agreed upon by that date, the court shall appoint one as provided in subrule (B)(3).
(3) The procedure for selecting a mediator from the approved list of mediators must be established by local ADR plan adopted under MCR 2.410(B). The ADR clerk shall assign mediators in a rotational manner that assures as nearly as possible that each mediator on the list is assigned approximately the same number of cases over a period of time. If a substitute mediator must be assigned, the same or similar assignment procedure shall be used to select the substitute.
(4) The court shall not appoint, recommend, direct, or otherwise influence a party’s or attorney’s selection of a mediator except as provided pursuant to this rule. The court may recommend or advise parties on the selection of a mediator only upon request of all parties by stipulation in writing or orally on the record.
(5) The rule for disqualification of a mediator is the same as that provided in MCR 2.003 for the disqualification of a judge. The mediator must promptly disclose any potential basis for disqualification.
(C) Scheduling and Conduct of Mediation.
(1) Scheduling. The order referring the case for mediation shall specify the time within which the mediation is to be completed. The ADR clerk shall send a copy of the order to each party and the mediator selected. Upon receipt of the court's order, the mediator shall promptly confer with the parties to schedule mediation in accordance with the order. Factors that may be considered in arranging the process may include the need for limited discovery before mediation, the number of parties and issues, and the necessity for multiple sessions. The mediator may direct the parties to submit in advance, or bring to the mediation, documents or summaries providing information about the case.
(2) Conduct of Mediation. The mediator shall meet with counsel and the parties, explain the mediation process, and then proceed with the process. The mediator shall discuss with the parties and counsel, if any, the facts and issues involved. The mediation will continue until a settlement is reached, the mediator determines that a settlement is not likely to be reached, the end of the first mediation session, or until a time agreed to by the parties. Additional sessions may be held as long as it appears that the process may result in settlement of the case.
(3) Completion of Mediation. Within 7 days after the completion of the ADR process, the mediator shall so advise the court, stating only the date of completion of the process, who participated in the mediation, whether settlement was reached, and whether further ADR proceedings are contemplated.
(4) Settlement. If the case is settled through mediation, within 21 days the attorneys shall prepare and submit to the court the appropriate documents to conclude the case.
(5) Confidentiality in the mediation process is governed by MCR 2.412.
(1) A mediator is entitled to reasonable compensation commensurate with the mediator's experience and usual charges for services performed.
(2) The costs of mediation shall be divided between the parties on a pro-rata basis unless otherwise agreed by the parties or ordered by the court. The mediator's fee shall be paid no later than
(a) 42 days after the mediation process is concluded, or
(b) the entry of judgment, or
(c) the dismissal of the action, whichever occurs first.
(3) If acceptable to the mediator, the court may order an arrangement for the payment of the mediator's fee other than that provided in subrule (D)(2).
(4) The mediator's fee is deemed a cost of the action, and the court may make an appropriate order to enforce the payment of the fee.
(5) If a party objects to the total fee of the mediator, the matter may be scheduled before the trial judge for determination of the reasonableness of the fee.
(E) List of Mediators.
(1) Application. To appear on a roster, an applicant, which may be an individual or organization may apply to the ADR clerk to be placed on the court's list of mediators. Application forms shall be available in the office of the ADR clerk.
(a) The form shall include a certification that
(i) the applicant meets the requirements for service under the court's selection plan;
(ii) the applicant will not discriminate against parties or attorneys on the basis of race, ethnic origin, gender, or other protected personal characteristic; and
(iii) the applicant will comply with the court's ADR plan, orders of the court regarding cases submitted to mediation, and the standards of conduct adopted by the State Court Administrator under subrule (G).
(b) The applicant shall indicate on the form the applicant's rate for providing mediation services.
(c) The form shall include an optional section identifying the applicant's gender and racial/ethnic background.
(d) An applicant Community Dispute Resolution Program center must select only mediators who meet the qualifications of this rule or training requirements established by the State Court Administrator to mediate cases ordered by the court.
(2) Review of Applications. The court's ADR plan shall provide for a person or committee to review applications annually, or more frequently if appropriate, and compile a list of qualified mediators.
(a) Applicants meeting the qualifications specified in this rule shall be placed on the list of approved mediators. Approved mediators shall be placed on the list for a fixed period, not to exceed seven years, and must reapply at the end of that time in the manner directed by the court.
(b) Selections shall be made without regard to race, ethnic origin, or gender. Residency or principal place of business may not be a qualification.
(c) The approved list and the applications of approved mediators, except for the optional section identifying the applicant's gender and racial/ethnic background, shall be available to the public in the office of the ADR clerk.
(d) An applicant may attach a résumé or biographical information to the application.
(3) Rejection; Reconsideration. Applicants who are not placed on the list shall be notified of that decision. Within 21 days of notification of the decision to reject an application, the applicant may seek reconsideration of the ADR clerk's decision by the Chief Judge. The court does not need to provide a hearing. Documents considered in the initial review process shall be retained for at least the period during which the applicant can seek reconsideration of the original decision.
(4) Removal from List. The ADR clerk may remove from the list mediators who have demonstrated incompetence, bias, made themselves consistently unavailable to serve as a mediator, or for other just cause. Within 21 days of notification of the decision to remove a mediator from the list, the mediator may seek reconsideration of the ADR clerk's decision by the Chief Judge. The court does not need to provide a hearing.
(F) Qualification of Mediators.
(1) Small Claims Mediation. District courts may develop individual plans to establish qualifications for persons serving as mediators in small claims cases.
(2) General Civil Mediation. To be eligible to serve as a general civil mediator, a person must meet the following minimum qualifications:
(a) Complete a training program approved by the State Court Administrator providing the generally accepted components of mediation skills;
(b) Have one or more of the following:
(i) Juris doctor degree or graduate degree in conflict resolution; or
(ii) 40 hours of mediation experience over two years, including mediation, co-mediation, observation, and role-playing in the context of mediation.
(c) Upon completion of the training required under subrule (F)(2)(a), observe two general civil mediation proceedings conducted by an approved mediator, and conduct one general civil mediation to conclusion under the supervision and observation of an approved mediator.
(3) An applicant who has specialized experience or training, but does not meet the specific requirements of subrule (F)(2), may apply to the ADR clerk for special approval. The ADR clerk shall make the determination on the basis of criteria provided by the State Court Administrator. Service as a case evaluator under MCR 2.403 does not constitute a qualification for serving as a mediator under this section.
(4) Approved mediators are required to obtain 8 hours of advanced mediation training during each 2-year period. Failure to submit documentation establishing compliance is ground for removal from the list under subrule(E)(4).
(5) Additional qualifications may not be imposed upon mediators.
(G) Standards of Conduct for Mediators. The State Court Administrator shall develop and approve standards of conduct for mediators designed to promote honesty, integrity, and impartiality in providing court-connected dispute resolution services. These standards shall be made a part of all training and educational requirements for court-connected programs, shall be provided to all mediators involved in court-connected programs, and shall be available to the public.