Contrary to attorney perceptions, the Florida Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators do not forbid a mediator from offering opinions. Rules, such as 10.306(c), only prohibit opinions that are “intended to coerce the parties, unduly influence the parties, decide the dispute, or direct a resolution of the case.”

The Committee Notes to the Rule explain the mediator’s ethical use of opinions: “The primary role of the mediator is to facilitate a process which will provide the parties an opportunity to resolve all or part of a dispute by agreement if they choose to do so. A mediator may assist in that endeavor by providing relevant information or helping the parties obtain such information from other sources. A mediator may also raise issues and discuss strengths and weaknesses of positions underlying the dispute. Finally, a mediator may help the parties evaluate resolution options and draft settlement proposals … While mediators may call upon their own qualifications and experience to supply information and options, the parties must be given the opportunity to freely decide upon any agreement. Mediators shall not utilize their opinions to decide any aspect of the dispute or to coerce the parties or their representatives to accept any resolution option.”

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