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Silence is Golden: Confidentiality of the Mediation Process

Legal disputes are often resolved effectively through the process of mediation.  One of the key advantages of mediation over litigation is the confidentiality it provides to the parties involved.

Mediation Confidentiality in California

Under California law, the only statement or writing made in connection with mediation that can be disclosed without the express consent of both parties is the agreement reached during the mediation itself. With limited exceptions, nothing else said or written during the course of the mediation, or for the purpose of the mediation, can be used as evidence, or can be compelled in discovery or as testimony in any legal proceeding. 

Key limitations on mediation confidentiality

It is important to note that mediation confidentiality does have its limits:

  • It applies only to legal proceedings — parties are not prohibited by law from talking to the press about what took place during the mediation process
  • Parties are not prohibited from talking about the process with business or professional colleagues, family members and friends

A good approach for preventing such disclosure is to sign a confidentiality agreement at the outset of mediation or negotiate a confidentiality clause in a final settlement agreement.

Using evidence acquired during mediation in court

California Evidence Code section 1120(a) provides that if evidence is otherwise admissible in court, it is not inadmissible or otherwise protected from disclosure simply because it was used in mediation.

Experience matters in mediating cases effectively for all parties.  Our Stockton mediation lawyers possess decades of experience resolving complex legal matters through mediation.

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