Delaware Department of Justice
Attorney General
Kathy Jennings

Fraud & Consumer Protection Division

Manufactured Housing Mediation Information

“Mediation” is the most common method presently used for resolving disputes. Mediation offers the parties a safe forum for reviewing options and enables the parties to develop their own settlement terms by a mutual agreement. Mediation is a process in which a neutral person called a “mediator” aids the parties in reaching agreement on how to resolve a dispute. To request mediation through the MHO, please complete and submit the Request for Mediation and Agreement to Mediate. Requests for mediation will not be processed unless both parties agree to mediation and have signed the Request and Agreement.

Mediation Highlights

  • The mediator cannot impose a decision or any penalty on the parties.
  • The mediator’s role is to clarify misunderstandings and ambiguities; to provide a new perspective on disputed issues; and to explore options for mutual agreement.
  • Mediation through the Office of the Ombudsperson is voluntary. Mediation will not proceed unless both parties agree to mediation.
  • Mediation is beneficial to both parties because of the time and money saved compared to a lawsuit or trial.

Mediation Basics

The following information is general information about mediations.  The details of mediation are worked out by the parties and the mediator and may vary.

Before the mediation begins, the parties sign a written Agreement to Mediate. For the MHO, the Agreement to Mediate is part of the Request for Mediation and Agreement to Mediate that the parties fill out to request mediation. The Agreement to Mediate states that the mediation conference and everything said at the mediation conference is confidential, even if the mediation does not resolve the dispute. It states that neither party can call the mediator as a witness if the case goes to arbitration or trial.

Mediation conferences are informal proceedings. The strict legal rules of evidence do not apply, and there is no formal calling or examination of witnesses.  This allows for an unrestricted discussion of issues and misunderstandings.

The purpose of mediation is not to determine who is right.  The purpose of mediation is for the parties, through the mediator, to work together to determine if there is some compromise that can be reached to resolve the dispute in question.  In mediation, no one wins, and no one loses.  Either the parties reach a settlement, or they do not.

If the parties reach a settlement, the parties and mediator work together to put the agreement in writing.  This can be done at the mediation conference or shortly thereafter.  The agreement describes both the settlement of issues and the future responsibilities of each party.  It is signed by both parties.  Once signed, the agreement is a binding contract, which is enforceable by the courts.

If the dispute is not resolved at the mediation conference, the mediator will continue to work with the parties to reach an agreement. Mediation includes all contacts between the mediator and any party, until the parties reach an agreement, or the parties discharge the mediator, or the mediator determines that the parties cannot agree. Mediation contacts can include telephone conversations, meetings, and additional mediation conferences.

The parties may terminate mediation at any time. Additionally, the mediator may terminate the conference if the parties are unable to agree. Terminating mediation does not bind either party to anything in any other proceeding.

Mediation Procedure

The following is a generalized procedure for mediation through the MHO.  Individual mediators, working with the parties, may use different procedures.

  • The parties request mediation and agree to mediate by signing the Request for Mediation and Agreement to Mediate and submitting it to the MHO.
  • The MHO will contact the parties.  If the parties have previously selected a mediator, the MHO will contact the mediator.  If the parties want the MHO to provide a mediator, the MHO will provide a mediator.  If the parties want the MHO to refer the matter to another mediator, the MHO will attempt to find another mediator for the parties.  There is no charge to the parties of the MHO provides the mediator.  Mediators other than the MHO may charge fees, and it is the responsibility of the parties to arrange for payment of any fees incurred.
  • The mediator will specify a date, time, and location for the mediation that is convenient to both parties.
  • Prior to the mediation conference, the mediator may require both parties to submit pre-mediation statements with supporting documents.   More information about pre-mediation statements can be found on the Request for Mediation and Agreement to Mediate
  • On the day and time of the mediation the parties will meet with the mediator.  The mediator and parties will determine whether everyone meets together first or whether the parties begin the day in separate rooms.
  • The mediator will explain the mediation process and will review the terms of the Agreement to Mediate with the parties.  The mediator will remind the parties that neither side may call the mediator as a witness in any other proceeding concerning the dispute.
  • If the parties are together, the mediator may ask the parties to each make a brief statement to describe their position in the dispute and their goals for the mediation.
  • The mediator will then separate the parties into different rooms so that the parties may speak privately with the mediator.
  • The mediator will decide which party to speak with first.
  • The mediator may ask questions of each party and will ask what they want the mediator to convey to the opposing party as a settlement proposal.  The mediator will only convey information or settlement proposals to the opposing party if the party expressly authorizes the mediator to do so.
  • The mediator will take messages back and forth between the parties and will discuss the settlement proposal and the response to it. The mediator will attempt to identify areas of agreement and areas of dispute as well as possible ways for reaching agreement.
  • The mediator will continue this process as long as it appears there is room to reach a settlement.
  • If the parties reach an impasse, the mediator will end the mediation conference for the day. The mediator may contact the parties later to seek and offer to convey additional proposals in an effort to obtain agreement that will resolve the dispute.
  • If the parties reach an agreement, the mediator will assist the parties in reducing the agreement to writing. The mediator may follow up with each party to see that each side is honoring the agreement, if that is necessary.
  • The mediator will report basic information about the mediation to the MHO as described in the Agreement to Mediate.  The mediator will not provide any other information to the MHO absent the express agreement of both parties.