Definition and applications
Mediation is a process that allows you, with the help of a third party, to find a solution to the problem you have with a merchant. It can take place before you file your claim with the Small Claims Court, as is the case using the PARLe online platform, or after you file your claim.
With mediation, you can decide the outcome of your dispute, rather than having a decision imposed on you by a judge.
Here are some examples of situations in which it is appropriate to use mediation:
- You have a problem following the purchase of a good and you want to have the legal warranty honored;
- You have received a good that does not conform to the contract;
- You experience a delay in the delivery of your good.
To get the most out of this process, it is important that you be well equipped.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for a mediation session:
- Find out what your rights are in relation to the problem you are experiencing. You can do this by calling the Office de la protection du consommateur, a consumer association, a community justice center, or a lawyer who specializes in this area. If you feel up to it, why not consult court decisions dealing with problems similar to yours for inspiration? Is your problem related to a legal warranty? The Office de la protection du consommateur website is full of summaries of judgments that may be of interest to you.
- Listen to what the merchant is proposing. This will allow you to know the different possibilities of settlement.
- Know that you will need to explain your problem as you experienced it. To do this, express yourself in a respectful manner. It is okay to say how you feel; expressing emotions is not prohibited in mediation.
- Ask yourself what you want to get out of the mediation, such as having a device repaired, exchanged for another, compensation or simply an apology.
- Identify your needs and interests. Mediation allows us to find solutions that are adapted to each individual. Not happy with what was decided in another case? Consider different solutions and do not hesitate to express your expectations clearly.
- Identify what would be the best solution in your case and what would be the worst (you never know what the other party might propose). This will allow you to know what your limits are.
- If you have noticed a practice that has bothered you or if the treatment of customer service has left something to be desired, don’t hesitate to mention it. This will allow the merchant to become aware of the various flaws that exist in their business and perhaps correct them.
Mediation is a simple and informal process. However, if you are still apprehensive after reading these tips for preparation, ask the mediator to explain how the mediation session will be conducted.
Where to start?
Before filing a claim :
It is possible to take advantage of a free mediation service, online on the PARLe platform, if negotiation with the merchant has not produced a result. To do so, you must contact the Office de la protection du consommateur, which will verify whether you meet the conditions of use of the platform, particularly if the problem is of a civil nature and if the problem involves a merchant participating in the project.
After filing a claim in court:
Following the filing of your legal claim with the small claims court, it is possible to benefit from a free mediation, up to a maximum of 3 hours. This mediation can take place both before and during the hearing of the case. Currently, a pilot project allows a representative from a community justice center to contact you, after you have filed your claim with the court, to offer you a free pre-mediation session. This session serves to explain what mediation is all about (the process, the role of the mediator, etc.). If both parties involved in the dispute agree, the file is then referred to a mediator. If a mediation agreement is reached, this ends the dispute. If the mediation ends without an agreement, the case will be decided by a judge. So you have nothing to lose by trying!