UPDATE: new guidance regarding mediations in North Carolina has been issued. Find out more information here.
Although North Carolina Courts are carefully moving toward conducting limited proceedings in person as of June 1st, it is abundantly clear that there will not be any jury trials anytime soon. If you are looking to resolve your case through mediation, the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission (DRC) has provided the following guidelines, which are summarized in this flow chart.
Mediations through May 30, 2020
- No in-person mediations are allowed prior to June 1, 2020.
- If the mediator, all parties, and any other persons required to attend agree to conduct the mediation using remote technology, then the mediation may be conducted remotely.
Mediations from June 1, 2020 onward
- The parties and mediator have a choice regarding in-person or remote mediation.
- Again, remote mediation requires the consent of the mediator, all parties, and any other persons required to attend
What if the parties or mediator cannot agree on whether to hold the mediation in-person or remotely? The DRC has provided the following guidance:
- “If the mediator wishes to hold the mediation remotely and the mediator does not have consent from all parties to do so, the mediator may either conduct the mediation in-person or file a Motion to Withdraw from the case.”
- “If a party to the mediation wishes to hold the mediation remotely and all parties do not consent to do so, either party to the action may file a Motion requesting the presiding judge order the mediation to be held remotely.”
Mediators, lawyers and parties should be mindful that when they elect to conduct a mediation in person, they must strictly comply with all executive orders, local orders, and social distancing requirements. To that end, “the DRC recommends all parties follow the three W’s:
- Wear a cloth face covering,
- Wait 6 feet apart and avoid close contact, and
- Wash your hands often.”
Note: Due to the COVID-19 crisis, changes to court proceedings and guidelines for conducting mediations are occurring regularly. This information may be outdated.
Credit: Information from the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission