Brushing Up on Mediator Lingo - dummies

By Victoria Pynchon, Joseph Kraynak

You can often help parties resolve their dispute by shifting their attention from their legal rights and remedies to the interests that each party is attempting to serve in pursuing legal claims. To do this, you need to understand some key terminology, including:

  • Right: An entitlement granted by law, custom, or agreement; for example, if you’re arrested, you have the right to remain silent.

  • Obligation: A duty that a party must perform in accordance with the law or to satisfy the requirements of a formal or informal contract; for example, if two parties enter into a legal contract, each is obligated to do what they promised.

  • Remedy: A legal solution to a legal problem; for example, awarding damages to an injured party.

  • Issue: A question that’s open for debate; for example: Do landowners have the right to use water from a stream that runs through their property to irrigate their crops?

  • Position: An opinion on an issue; for example: No, landowners don’t have the right to use the water for irrigation.

  • Interest: A need, desire, fear, preference, priority, belief, or motivation that drives a person’s position. For example, if landowners use the water for irrigation, neighbors won’t have enough to power their mills.