Bilingual Mediations? Yes, With Caveats
By Jose G. Rodriguez
Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator
In its recent advisory opinion (2021-002), the Mediation Ethics Advisory Committee of the Florida Supreme Court addressed that question and provided guidance for compliance.
First it opined that mediators are not prohibited from conducting bilingual mediations, however, per its earlier opinion (2017-002), mediators cannot serve the dual role of mediator and interpreter. This makes perfect practical and ethical sense.
The second question addressed by the Committee, was whether there was a prohibition against the written mediation agreement being written in a language requested by the parties. The answer is there is no prohibition, if the mediator is able to write in the requested language, so long as it was the language used in the mediation.
If the agreement is written in a language that is foreign to one of the parties, the mediator shall inform that party of the right to have the agreement reviewed with an interpreter or translator before signing. In that instance, it is a best practice to use a Certificate of Translation, for a Click Here for a sample.
Further, the mediator is obligated to inform the parties that any document filed with the courts, must be in English.