I doubt whether anyone has a legal right to keep their garbage confidential. However, there are a couple of real legal rights of confidentiality that you should know about any time you face a legal dispute. If you hire an attorney, your conversations with your attorney are confidential. That’s called the attorney-client privilege. Did you know that there is another legal right of confidentiality that will keep a lot more communications confidential than just those you have with your own attorney?
In mediation, you have the legal right to speak confidentially with not only your own attorney but also with the opposing parties and their attorneys.
The attorney-client privilege only causes people to do one thing, invest more time and more money pursuing litigation. However, litigation rarely resolves anything and you won’t get very far along to resolve things out of court if you are only willing and able to speak with your own attorney. You need to speak with the other parties to figure out what they are thinking and how they might propose to resolve the situation. To do this you need some assurances and protection. Everyone needs to be assured that whatever they say will not be used against them later. Mediation and the mediation privilege does exactly that. Its the legal right and obligation to keep all communications between everyone who attends a mediation conference confidential.
An ounce of trust placed in a good mediator is often worth more than a ton of litigation.
People are used to trusting their own attorneys and relying on them to get the information they want and need to decide how and when to resolve a lawsuit. However, your attorney can rarely get from the other side, the full story, not without a long, expensive discovery fight in court. There is an easier way to get the facts and figures you need to try to decide how to settle a lawsuit. Imagine all the parties to the lawsuit assembled in a safe room. Imagine a process unfolding in that safe room run by a neutral third party with no prior history or stake in the dispute. Imagine placing your trust in this person knowing that they are legally required to keep everything you tell them confidential. Imagine that this person could be trained to ask questions and speak privately with everyone to hear all sides of the case; the strengths, weaknesses, interests, priorities and fears of all parties. Imagine that once this trustworthy neutral person acquires confidential information from both sides that they can use this “crystal ball” of knowledge to help both sides negotiate to get more of what they really want to settle the lawsuit out of court. Just imagine…….better yet just mediate.