Mediation can be very cost-effective even for small claims matters. In Pennsylvania, claims for damages up to $12,000 can be heard in District Justice Court, also known as Magistrate's Court. Parties -- even corporations -- can represent themselves and retaining counsel is not necessary.
PA RESOLVE, like many other Mediation Services, offers reduced fees for telephone mediation of small claims matters up to $5,000. Under the PA RESOLVE Small Claims Mediation Fee Structure, these disputes can be mediated for as little as $75. Once the parties agree to mediation, a session can usually be scheduled within three business days.
Mediation of these claims makes good sense, especially when comparing the costs and risks of a District Justice action. The filing fees for DJ cases range from about $50 to $120, depending on the amount involved. The cost of service of the complaint needs to be paid as well, that can add another $50 to $75 to the cost, sometimes more. Attorneys fees can add another $150 to $1,200 to your cost, depending on location and experience of counsel.
The District Justice will schedule a hearing, usually in about 20 to 30 days from the date the complaint is filed, but it can be as many as 60 days. A decision is issued within five days of the hearing and that can be appealed, usually within 30 days. An appeal will almost certainly involved retaining an attorney (highly recommended at that stage).
Mediation could possibly be accomplished for a total fee of $75 - $300 and concluded finally within a week or so after the parties sign the Mediation Agreement and the fees are paid.