Option #3 - Try to Settle: Negotiation and Mediation


 Try to reach a settlement without going to court. Ask yourself:  Do you owe money?  Does the other side have a good case? “Is there room to compromise?”

There usually is some acceptable middle ground, especially in money disputes. Remember that defending your case in court will cost you time off from work, possibly other costs and maybe attorney’s fees. The same is true for the other side.

Even if you and the other side tried negotiating in the past, you should still consider talking to your opponent to see what might be worked out at this point.

Do not be fooled into thinking that you will be able to “split the difference,” that is, agreeing to reduce the money claim by half. The fact that it has gone this far means that the other side thinks they have a good case. If you are able to reach an agreement to reduce the claim by 20 to 30%, many people would consider this a victory. Of course, if you believe that the other side is completely wrong and you owe nothing, this option is not for you.

What are my choices?

  • Negotiate:  You can try talking directly to the other side without the involvement of a neutral third party
  • Mediate:  This is negotiation with the intervention of a neutral third person who assists in resolving the dispute.  The District Court of Maryland's Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Office provides mediation and settlement conferences for civil cases pending in many District Court locations. These ADR services are offered at no charge, either on the day of trial or before the trial date (Pre-Trial), through the District Court ADR Program.”  Find out more [10]

Two practical reasons to consider mediation

  1. Mediation offers the chance to deal with the emotional issues raised by the dispute. Do not let the word “emotional” throw you. Mediation can be particularly important if you have an ongoing relationship with the other side – family, friend, or neighbor. 

  2. Mediation often results in reducing the initial amount claimed by the other side. You cannot count on reducing the amount if you go to court, especially if your defense is not particularly strong. But in mediation, you may be successful in pointing out that a compromise can save both of you the time, trouble and expense of going to court.

TIP- If you are able to reach an agreement through your negotiation or mediation, it is a good idea to ask the judge to enter the agreement as part of the court order. Just in case the other side does not live up to their side of the agreement, you will find it easier to enforce a judgment than to try to enforce a private agreement.

Edits by Regina Strait, Esq.
Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2019.”