Mediation in Maryland took another step forward in the passage of Senate Bill SB856, known as the Maryland Mediation Confidentiality Act.
This Act formalizes the confidentiality rules already in play with most private mediators- namely that the settlement offers and proposals and documents created solely for the purpose of formulating offers and proposal are confidential. If the mediation participants can’t settle, and wind up in court, there will be no testimony permitted about the offers and proposals which were exchanged in mediation. Your pay stubs, or tax returns, or other documents that are introduced in mediation would not be confidential, because they were not created for the purposes of the mediation (for example, a bank statement would be discoverable and admissible but the financial statement created for the mediation would not.)
This law basically extended the same rules that currently bind attorneys leading traditional settlement negotiations; specifically, that where there is an allegation of fraud, irregularity or duress, or if a mediator has to defend him or herself against malpractice claims, confidentiality goes out the window.
This closes a gap in the rules of procedure in the current practice of mediation in Maryland. The passage of the bill demonstrates that mediation is here to stay and is a process which is evolving on an ongoing basis. Mediation in Maryland has come a long way to take its rightful place in the dispute resolution process.
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