Alternative Dispute Resolution – What is Mediation?

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The Mediation Association of Colorado describes mediation as a process that brings parties together to resolve their differences through discussion and problem-solving. The goal is to achieve "win-win" solutions. The mediator is a neutral third party who helps facilitate the dialogue but is not the final decision-maker, arbitrator, or judge. Mediation can resolve disputes quickly and satisfactorily without the expense, delay and anxiety of litigation.

A joint resolution passed by the State’s Senate in 2017 recognizes October as Conflict Resolution Month in Colorado. This resolution acknowledges that conflict resolution encompasses many forms of responses to differences, including mediation. It goes on to state that community-based conflict resolution programs are effective in strengthening local relationships by fairly and equitably resolving neighborhood and community conflicts and opening community dialogues based on reason and mutual respect.

This would not be the first time the Colorado General Assembly has encouraged alternative dispute resolution, also known as ADR. In section 38-33.3-124 of the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act (“CCIOA”), the General Assembly states that the cost, complexity, and delay inherent in court proceedings make litigation a particularly inefficient means of resolving neighborhood disputes. Furthermore, the legislature specifically encourages common interest communities (“HOAs”) to adopt protocols that make use of mediation or arbitration as alternatives to, or preconditions upon, the filing of a complaint between a unit owner and association in situations that do not involve an imminent threat to the peace, health, or safety of the community.

This encouragement, along with the requirement in section 38-33.3-209.5(1)(VIII) that HOAs adopt policies and procedures for addressing disputes arising between the association and unit owners, lend support to the idea that associations and homeowners should engage in ADR as an effective means of resolving differences. Mediation and other methods of ADR are more cost effective than traditional litigation and frequently result in more acceptable outcomes for all parties involved.  

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