The PCRC Mediation Process

The process outlined below represents the general PCRC model for mediation. The details of the process may differ based on the particular PCRC mediation program you use. For more information, call us at 650-513-0330. Or start a case now!

What happens when I open a case?
How do I prepare for mediation?
Who are PCRC’s mediators?
What happens when I am at the mediation?
How much will it cost?


What happens when I open a case?

In order to open a case with PCRC, we will need the names, addresses and telephone numbers of those involved with the situation. Most often, there are two people involved, the initiating party (the person who opened the case) and the responding party (the person who the initiator would like to meet in mediation). We’ll also ask you to provide a brief description of the issue, from your perspective. If there are fees required for your case, we’ll hold the information until we’ve received those fees.

Once the intake paperwork is complete, we assign a case number and send out letters to the parties involved explaining that PCRC was contacted, describing the mediation process and letting the participatnts know that a case developer (a PCRC staff member or a volunteer) will be contacting the parties soon to talk about the situation and to discuss the possibility of mediation.

The case developer helps address any concerns you might have about mediation. He or she will call both you and the responding party (or parties) to answer questions, help clarify the main issues, and hopefully, schedule a mediation. Remember that mediation is voluntary. If the responding party declines the invitation, we will inform you that the case will be closed.

Every effort is made to schedule your mediation at a convenient time and location. Shortly before the mediation date you will receive a confirmation letter from us indicating the date, time, and place of the meeting. Also enclosed will be a “Statement of Information” about mediation, and a copy of the “Confidentiality Agreement” which you will be asked to sign at the beginning of the session. Scheduling a mediation requires coordinating many schedules: the parties involved, the mediators, and the site location. It may delay the process by several weeks if you cancel the session after it has been arranged.

The mediation begins when all parties and mediators arrive at the mediation site. The mediators will welcome you and have you introduce yourselves. Mediations vary in length. We ask that you set aside three hours for the session. If more time is needed, additional meetings can be scheduled.

After the mediation you will receive a copy of any document you signed during the meeting. In most cases, these documents will be the Confidentiality Agreement and the Resolution Agreement, which will describe the points of agreement you reached. Also enclosed will be an evaluation card for you to provide feedback on our services. On an agreed upon date after the mediation, one of the mediators will contact all participants to see if any further assistance is desired. If necessary, an additional mediation session may be scheduled. If no further action is needed by PCRC, the case is closed at this point.
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How do I prepare for mediation?

Remember, mediation is not like going to court or an administrative hearing. You need to be ready to think about possible solutions, not convince the mediator that your position is “right.” To prepare for your mediation, carefully consider:

  • the issues you want discussed in mediation
  • the real reasons underlying your position on those issues and their relative importance
  • what you need from the other person (or the other people) to settle the dispute
  • your assessment of reasons underlying the positions of the other parties
  • information you wish to bring to mediation
  • others with whom you should consult before signing an agreement

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Who are PCRC’s mediators?

PCRC recruits and trains volunteers from a broad variety of backgrounds to serve as mediators. Through a rigorous training process these volunteers learn to assist parties to communicate clearly and negotiate for a mutually acceptable resolution. PCRC will select the mediators who will meet with you. Prior to the mediation, the mediators are provided only with a brief summary of the situation to be discussed and with the names of the participants. Mediators are not assigned to a case if they know the participants personally or if they have any stake in the outcome of the mediation.

Mediators are trained to be impartial. If at any point in the mediation you genuinely feel that a mediator is biased or has a conflict of interest in the situation, you should raise that concern with the mediation panel.
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What happens when I am at the mediation?

1. Following introductions, the mediator reviews the ground rules and procedures to be followed during mediation. These procedures may vary in complexity depending on the nature of the dispute but will cover, at a minimum, the mediator’s role, the mediation process and confidentiality issues.

2. The parties talk about the issues to be resolved, provide relevant information and clarify their positions on each issue along with the underlying reasons for those positions. The effort is made to ensure that each party understands the needs of the other party in relation to the issues being discussed.

3. Parties develop possible options for dealing with each issue. The options acceptable to the parties become the basis for the agreement.

4. An agreement is drafted by the mediator, listing the specific points of agreement, who has agreed to take action and the timeline for implementation of the agreement. A strategy for dealing with issues in the future is often included in the agreement.

5. The agreement is reviewed by others, if necessary, and signed by all parties.
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How much will it cost?

PCRC contracts with most cities in San Mateo County. For our general community mediation program, there is no charge for residents of these cities to open a mediation case. However, if a mediation session is held, we ask that each party pay $25.

Residents of non-contracting cities in San Mateo County can use our services for a $50 initiation fee. If a mediation session is held, the responding party is also asked to pay $50.

There are additional fees for our specialized mediation services (Homeowner Association, Multi-party/Complex, workplace and family). Please contact us for more information.
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