Welcome to the riveting conclusion of last week’s post, entitled Should Mediators Work on Contingency? I appreciate the ‘negative’ response it generated (as in, “no, they should not work on contingency”). There should be no surprise then that, unlike the lawyer-side of my brain that often answers tough legal questions with “well, it depends”, the mediator-side is clear and unequivocal on the issue of whether mediators should charge contingency fees: “No, and it doesn’t depend (on anything, anyone, or any result)!”.
5 reasons mediators should not charge contingency fees
As mentioned previously, if ADRIC’s prohibition on mediator contingency fees is not enough to convince you that non-member mediators should follow suit, I’m prepared to try to convince you. Although I am not aware of the precise reasons why ADRIC chose to ban contingency fees, I suspect the drafters of the Code were mindful of several of the following arguments against mediator contingency fees (particularly the first two):
Reason 1: Mediators are supposed to be neutral and impartial. However, if you make the mediator’s fee – or part of that fee – dependent on achieving a settlement (or certain terms of settlement) then neutrality can be compromised since the mediation outcome affects the mediators’ ability to get paid. As Cyndi Lauper sang, Read more →
Recently, someone asked me if mediators ever work on contingency. The question took me by surprise. To me, the answer seemed obvious, and so I replied: “No, of course not”. As a mediator, I have never charged a contingency fee, nor do I know any mediators where I practise (Ontario, Canada) who do so. Frankly, I don’t believe the thought had ever crossed my mind. However, as a lawyer (I am a lawyer and a mediator – just not for the same dispute), I will enter into contingency fee arrangements for legal services with clients from time-to-time, and for certain types of matters.
Nevertheless, I was curious about my instant aversion to charging contingency fees as a mediator, and I thought that the person who raised the issue deserved a fulsome answer.
In this post (and its conclusion next week), I will address the following questions: 1. Are mediators in Ontario and other parts of Canada permitted to charge contingency fees? 2. If so, are contingency fees a good idea?