Most civil cases require parties to try to mediate their dispute.

In mediation, both sides meet with a neutral person - the mediator - who is trained to help people come to an agreement. The parties work together with the mediator to reach an agreement instead of having the court make a decision.

  • If the parties can't reach an agreement, they can still have the court make a decision in their case. 
  • If the parties do reach an agreement, they will write up their agreement and they won't need to have a trial.


Finding a Mediator


Preparing for Mediation

  • Get all the documents you think are important to explain your side of the case. The mediator may ask you for copies of these and may ask you to send them to the other parties.
  • Think about what points you want the mediator and the other side to understand.
  • Think about weak points in your case. Think about the strong points of the other side.
  • Think about reasonable ways to resolve the dispute that would satisfy you.
  • Realize there may be ways to resolve the dispute you haven’t considered. Be flexible. 


Foreclosure Mediation

Foreclosure mediation is different from other civil mediation. In foreclosure mediation, the mediator's role is to ensure that the lender has considered all the options for modifying the loan so that the borrower can stay in their home.

The defendant must submit a written form to the court requesting foreclosure mediation. The Vermont Bar Association then contacts both the plaintiff and the defendant with a selection of three mediators to choose from. If the parties do not agree upon a mediator, the court selects one.

The Vermont Bar Association provides a list of foreclosure mediators on their website. The list also provides brief biographical information about each mediator. 


In some cases, mediation may not be required, or the court may waive the mediation requirement. See Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 16.3 below for more information. 

Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 16.3 - Mediation

Rule 16.3. Mediation

(a) Applicability; When Mediation Required.

(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), the parties must participate in mediation pursuant to this rule unless excused by the judge.

(2) Unless the judge orders otherwise, mediation shall not be required under this rule in the following cases:

(A) Small claims actions under the Vermont Rules of Small Claims Procedure;

(B) Actions in which at or before the filing of the last required pleading, the parties jointly certify that they have in good faith engaged in mediation regarding the dispute that is the subject of the action and file with the court a report of the mediator, describing the process employed and the results;

(C) Actions to foreclose a mortgage or evict a tenant;

(D) Actions to renew a judgment;

(E) Appeals under Rules 74-75; and

(F) Proceedings for a writ of habeas corpus or for post-conviction relief.


(b) Stipulation for Mediation.

(1) When FiledIn every action in which mediation is required under this rule, the parties must file a stipulation for mediation within thirty days of the filing of the last answer. If the parties fail to do so, the court may appoint a mediator and set a deadline for mediation.

(2) ContentsThe stipulation for mediation must contain:

(A) The designation of a specific individual, who need not be an attorney, to serve as the mediator;

(B) Any agreement concerning the payment of the mediator’s fees and expenses; and

(C) A deadline for the completion of mediation.

(3) ParticipationAll parties and their counsel must attend a scheduled mediation in person unless the parties stipulate that the mediation may be conducted remotely by video or by telephone, or the court, in it discretion, excuses a person from participation entirely, or authorizes a person, party, or all parties to participate remotely by video or telephone. A corporation, partnership, or other entity that is a party, and a liability insurer that is defending the action or that sues in the name of its insured, must each be represented by a person (other than outside counsel) who has settlement authority and authority to enter stipulations. With the agreement of all parties and the mediator, any nonparty having an interest that may be materially affected by the outcome of the proceeding, or whose presence is essential to its resolution, may be invited to attend the session in person or by counsel.


(c) MediatorsThe following provisions apply to mediations held pursuant to this rule:

(1) Fees and Expenses; Payment for Services; Taxation as Costs.

(A) The fees and expenses of a mediator selected by the parties will be agreed upon by the parties and the mediator.

(B) Each party must pay an equal share of the fees and expenses of any selected or designated mediator unless otherwise agreed or ordered. Any party that believes it is financially unable to pay the fee may file a motion with the court requesting that mediation not be required in the case.

(C) If mediation under this rule does not result in settlement or other final disposition of the action, payments made to a mediator may be taxed as costs to the prevailing party in the discretion of the court.

(2) Impartiality; Disclosure; Conflict of Interest. A mediator selected by the parties or designated by the clerk must not accept the assignment, or must withdraw, if the neutral mediator does not reasonably believe that the assignment can be undertaken impartially. If the mediator accepts the assignment, the mediator must disclose at any time to the parties any interest or relationship likely to affect his or her impartiality or to create an appearance of bias. If a mediator selected by the parties does not accept the assignment or withdraws, or if any party objects to a mediator on grounds of conflict of interest, unless otherwise provided by the agreement or by law, the parties must agree on another mediator within fourteen days or the clerk will select another mediator.


(d) Excuse of Modification for Cause. The court at any time, by its own order or on the motion of a party, may for good cause excuse any party or parties from the application of any or all provisions of this rule or may modify provisions of the rule to fit particular circumstances.


(e) Confidentiality. All written or oral communications made in connection with or during a mediation proceeding conducted under this rule are governed by chapter 194 of Title 12 of the Vermont Statutes Annotated.


(f) Sanctions. If a party, lawyer, or other person who is required to participate in a mediation under this rule does not appear at the mediation, or does not comply with any other requirement of this rule or any order made under it, unless that person shows good cause for not appearing or not complying, the court will impose one or more of the following sanctions:

(1) The court will require the party or lawyer, or both, to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees and costs, of the opposing party, and any fees and expenses of the mediator, incurred by reason of the nonappearance, unless the court finds that such an award would be unjust in the circumstances.

(2) In addition, the court may order the parties to submit to mediation, dismiss the action or any part of the action, render a decision or judgment by default, or impose any other sanction that is just and appropriate in the circumstances.


Added Oct. 5, 1999, eff. Dec. 31, 1999; amended Mar. 6, 2002, eff. July 1, 2002; June 16, 2003, eff. November 1, 2003; Dec. 21, 2004, eff. Feb. 21, 2005; Jan. 25, 2005, eff. Jan. 31, 2005; Nov. 22, 2011, eff. Jan. 23, 2012; July 11, 2016, eff. Sept. 12, 2016; Dec. 13, 2021, eff. Feb. 14, 2022.