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2024 California Rules of Court

Rule 3.856. Competence

(a) Compliance with court qualifications

A mediator must comply with experience, training, educational, and other requirements established by the court for appointment and retention.

(b) Truthful representation of background

A mediator has a continuing obligation to truthfully represent his or her background to the court and participants. Upon a request by any party, a mediator must provide truthful information regarding his or her experience, training, and education.

(c) Informing court of public discipline and other matters

A mediator must also inform the court if:

(1)  Public discipline has been imposed on the mediator by any public disciplinary or professional licensing agency;

(2)  The mediator has resigned his or her membership in the State Bar or another professional licensing agency while disciplinary or criminal charges were pending;

(3)  A felony charge is pending against the mediator;

(4)  The mediator has been convicted of a felony or of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude; or

(5)  There has been an entry of judgment against the mediator in any civil action for actual fraud or punitive damages.

(d) Assessment of skills; withdrawal

A mediator has a continuing obligation to assess whether or not his or her level of skill, knowledge, and ability is sufficient to conduct the mediation effectively. A mediator must decline to serve or withdraw from the mediation if the mediator determines that he or she does not have the level of skill, knowledge, or ability necessary to conduct the mediation effectively.

Rule 3.856 renumbered effective January 1, 2007; adopted as rule 1620.6 effective January 1, 2003.

Advisory Committee Comment

Subdivision (d). No particular advanced academic degree or technical or professional experience is a prerequisite for competence as a mediator. Core mediation skills include communicating clearly, listening effectively, facilitating communication among all participants, promoting exploration of mutually acceptable settlement options, and conducting oneself in a neutral manner.

A mediator must consider and weigh a variety of issues in order to assess whether his or her level of skill, knowledge, and ability is sufficient to make him or her effective in a particular mediation. Issues include whether the parties (1) were involved or had input in the selection of the mediator; (2) had access to information about the mediator's background or level of skill, knowledge, and ability; (3) have a specific expectation or perception regarding the mediator's level of skill, knowledge, and ability; (4) have expressed a preference regarding the style of mediation they would like or expect; or (5) have expressed a desire to discuss legal or other professional information, to hear a personal evaluation of or opinion on a set of facts as presented, or to be made aware of the interests of persons who are not represented in mediation.

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