FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: My sales agreement requires or compels me to mediate my dispute. Isn’t mediation a “voluntary” process?
A: Yes, mediation is voluntary; whereby the process is not statutorily mandated – meaning that there is no state law or legislation that requires you to mediate your sales agreement dispute. Because the Maryland REALTORS® Residential & Unimproved Land Contracts of Sale include a provision to mediate, parties obligate themselves to the process by agreement.
Q: If the law does not require me to mediate, then why was the mediation paragraph put into the sales agreement?
A: The Maryland REALTORS® has joined with other major service industries and trade associations by incorporating a “Mediation of Disputes” paragraph in their contract and encourages the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution to their members, clients & customers.
Most notably, the State of Maryland is a front-runner in the conflict resolution movement nationally! The Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office (MACRO) was formed several years ago for the purpose of spreading the use of ADR (mediation) through the court systems, as well as creating many community mediation centers statewide.
For more information on MACRO
Contact: (410) 260-3540 or visit the website at http://www.courts.state.md.us/macro/
Q: How does mediation differ from arbitration?
A: An Arbitrator has the authority to render a binding decision - similar to a judge in a court of law. The parties, therefore, forfeit their right to have their dispute tried in a court of law. Mediators, on the other hand, have no authority to render a decision but merely assist the parties in arriving at a mutually agreeable solution. If the parties fail to reach a settlement, they are free to pursue other forms of dispute resolution including arbitration and litigation. In successful mediations all parties leave as winners – there are no losers. The advantage with mediation over arbitration is that the parties are in control of working out the terms of the eventual settlement, not anyone else.
Q: What are the fees or costs to mediate?
A: Parties are each expected to pay an administrative or convening fee in addition to payment for the services of the Mediator.
The administrative or convening fee ( $200 ) covers the preparation and distribution of all necessary documents to all required parties and includes certified mail delivery notification, courtesy reply mail, coordination and scheduling of the mediation conference and selection of the facility and Mediator.
The Mediator fee, due at the completion of the mediation conference, will be a 2-hour minimum fee charged to the parties the day of the mediation conference. Mediator fees are $200 per hour with a two hour minimum. The 2-hour fee is shared (or split) between the parties. *parties will be notified regarding the mediator fee charges prior to the scheduled mediation conference and will receive an invoice for charges with the notice of scheduled mediation confirmation.
Q: Are there other expenses for mediation?
A: Sometimes it is necessary to compensate the Mediator for travel costs. Depending on the location or circumstances, the charges levied are for distances of 30 miles or more (one-way). You will be notified prior to your mediation conference regarding any charges that would apply.
Q: Will my REALTOR® be attending the mediation conference?
A: Although REALTORS® (agents) are not parties to the contract you may invite your agent to attend the mediation conference, however the agent is under no obligation to attend. If you elect to invite your agent to attend the mediation conference, you must notify OM Services via the Requesting or Responding Party forms or a separate registration form to be completed and returned to OM Services prior to the scheduling of the mediation conference. Agents who agree to attend the mediation conference must also adhere to the program’s policies and rules regarding confidentiality and will be expected to sign the Agreement to Mediation & Confidentiality along with all parties to the mediation. Scheduling of the mediation conference will not be predicated upon the availability of the agent to attend the conference.
Q: Can parties be represented by an attorney or legal counsel?
A: Yes. All we require is that you notify OM Services, prior to the scheduling of your mediation conference, of who your attorney or legal counsel will be so that we may be able to coordinate the paperwork and scheduling with them. Any legal fee(s) for personal representation is the responsibility of each party.
Q: Who are the Mediators?
A: The MAR Mediation Program Mediators are highly qualified and respected leaders in the field of real estate and law who have undergone extensive training in conflict resolution. All of the program mediators are required to maintain continuing education training in addition to being covered by errors & omissions insurance. Consistent with State law, all MAR Mediators have read and will abide by the Maryland Standard of Conduct for Mediators during the mediation.
Q: Who selects the Mediator for my dispute?
A: OM Services works with the parties to determine who can be selected and will work closely with the parties to seek out the most appropriate mediator for your case. Special attention is paid to making sure that the selection of the Mediator will not conflict with any party’s personal interest or real estate brokerage affiliation.
Q: Where will the mediation conference be held?
A: Depending on the availability of facilities, the mediation conference can either be held at one of the local REALTOR® Boards or Associations in the county or region associated with the contractual dispute or at the office of the Mediator assigned the case.
Q: What happens if my dispute is not resolved by mediation?
A: Since you have not waived any legal rights by participating in this process, you can still pursue other legal remedies such as arbitration or litigation.
Q: I have other questions regarding the mediation process that aren’t listed here. Is there someone I can call for help?
A: ABSOLUTELY! We’re glad you asked! For your convenience we have a TOLL-FREE VOICE MAIL number where you can call & leave your name & number. Throughout the workday we’ll retrieve your message and will have our “OMBUDS” return your call. CALL 1-888-412-6740
OM Services is a service company offering Ombudsman and Mediation Services. It does not provide legal advice and its services are not the substitute for advice from a licensed attorney.
OM Services 2018