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How Do I Find a Properly Qualified Mediator or Arbitrator?

The first step is to check for mediators or arbitrators in your area. ADR organizations such as the ADR Institute of Alberta (ADRIA), the Alberta Family Mediation Society (AFMS), the Mediation &Restorative Justice Centre (MRJC) and community mediation centres will have rosters of ADR practitioners, usually identifying where they are located.

There are more arbitrators and mediators in larger cities; but most areas have at least a few. Also, many arbitration and mediation professionals will travel to rural areas for a modest increase in fees.

When you find a few possible alternatives, do not hesitate to call them and ask about their qualifications and experience. If they say they are “certified”, ask what that means, who certified them and what they are certified for.

If they took a 30 or 40 hour training course, they are not certified… even if they can show you a certificate. Professional, experienced arbitrators and mediators will have taken hundreds of hours of training, been examined in intense role plays, passed an examination, gone through a practicum, and been mentored by senior practitioners.

Several colleges and universities such as the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and Mount Royal College have full ADR programs. Many are trained through the ADR Institute of Alberta (ADRIA) which also examines mediation and arbitration students wanting a formal designation.

Designations can only be awarded by the ADR Institute of Canada through its provincial affiliates. The designations in Canada are:

Qualified Mediator  ( Q.Med )                         Qualified Arbitrator  ( Q.Arb )
Chartered Mediator ( C.Med )                         Chartered Arbitrator  ( C.Arb )

The “Qualified” designation is the first level of certification in Canada. It denotes an acceptable level of knowledge and proficiency to credibly practice mediation or arbitration.

The “Chartered” designation denotes the most senior and experienced arbitrators and mediators. In order to be able to teach, assess or mentor others, one must first obtain the “Chartered” designation.

A number of practitioners come from other countries where they have been already been certified. Equivalencies in training and experience are considered, and many are qualified to practice in Canada.

However there are still good mediators and arbitrators without their designations. They may be gaining experience or doing a practicum or waiting for their equivalency review. These people usually charge less, and very often will ask a more senior mediator or arbitrator to accompany them when doing an arbitration or mediation. When this happens, there is generally no additional charge to the clients.   

Anyone who has only taken on-line training is not considered sufficiently qualified to practice.

Lawyers will sometimes say they are qualified to arbitrate or mediate simply because they are lawyers, and that they need very little formal ADR training. That is simply not true. In the case of mediation, it is a collaborative and non-legal process, whereas our legal system is confrontational. Some lawyers who have taken the proper training make outstanding mediators. Some have more difficulty wearing a neutral hat, when they are so used to representing one party or another.

Most arbitrators, however, are usually lawyers. Arbitration is more similarly to a judicial hearing and the rules of evidence generally apply. Sometimes in arbitration a subject matter expert is required, such as in construction, or labor law, or medicine. That is why many arbitrations are adjudicated by an “arbitration panel” usually comprised of three. In such cases, a lawyer is usually the Chief Arbitrator.

Whatever your needs, never hesitate to ask about their designations, their experience and their expertise.  If you are still having trouble or are not sure what best suits you, you can always contact us at AAMS. We’re glad to help.

 

 
 
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