Mediating A Small Claims Dispute
Learn about mediation and how you might be able to use it as a time-saving alternative to suing in small claims court. If you have already filed your small claims case, find out whether the court will require you to try mediation.
If you are considering filing a small claims case, or if you have been sued in small claims, you might be interested in taking advantage of a FREE time-saving alternative called the Neighborhood Justice Center (NJC). The NJC's personalized, no-cost mediation service may help you resolve the dispute more quickly than through the court.
If you have already filed a small claims case (or if a case has been filed against you), you may be required to participate in mediation as part of the case, depending on where it was filed:
- In the Henderson Justice Court, you will be required to mediate your case with the NJC on the same date set for your small claims hearing. If you are unable to settle the case, the hearing will go forward.
- In the North Las Vegas Justice Court, your first court date will be for mediation with the NJC. If the mediation is unsuccessful, a second court date will be set for your small claims hearing.
- In the Las Vegas Justice Court, mediation is not mandatory, but mediation is still available to the parties any time before a judgment is entered.
In any of the other justice courts in Clark County, the NJC’s free mediation services are available to you.
For more information about mediation through the NJC, click to visit Free Mediation. To see a flowchart that shows how mediation fits into the small claims process, click one of the file names below:
Flowchart – Overview of the Small Claims Process
Below is a short video: Mediation. Remember that different small claims courts have different procedures, so make sure you're complying with your court's requirements. To watch the entire small claims video series, click to visit our Videos page.
The small claims video series was made possible thanks to a grant from the State Bar of Nevada's Lawyer Referral and Information Service.
Q&A – Small Claims Mediation
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process in which opposing parties meet with a neutral third party (called a “mediator”) to try and reach a mutually agreeable solution.
Mediation starts with all the parties meeting in one room. Each party has a chance to share their view of the dispute without interruption. Each party then has a private session with the mediator to talk about possible ways to solve the dispute. The mediator will then bring all the parties back together to talk about solutions that might work for everyone.
Mediators are not judges. They will not decide which party is right or wrong. They will also not decide whether one party is telling the truth or advise the parties on how to proceed. The mediator is only there to facilitate a respectful environment to help the parties look at their goals and options so they can find a solution that leaves everyone satisfied.
FYI! One advantage of mediation is that you can reach agreements that include things that cannot be ordered in small claims court. Small claims judges can only award money. But a mediation agreement can include other types of relief tailored to the needs of the parties. For example, the parties could agree in mediation to return a car, stop playing loud music, or repair a dented fender.
How do I sign up for mediation?
If your small claims case is in Henderson or North Las Vegas, you will be required to attempt mediation through the NJC as part of the small claims case.
- In the Henderson Justice Court, a mandatory mediation will be held the same date as your small claims hearing. You just need to show up at the date, time, and place stated on the Small Claims Complaint. If the parties cannot resolve the case, the small claims hearing will go forward. All this takes place at the Henderson courthouse.
- In the North Las Vegas Justice Court, the date the court clerk sets on the Small Claims Complaint is for mandatory mediation. If the parties are unable to settle the case at mediation, the court will set a future small claims hearing date. The mediation and hearing both take place at the North Las Vegas courthouse.
For all other jurisdictions including Las Vegas, you can contact the NJC at (702) 455-3898. Mediation with the NJC is free. The NJC will contact your opposing party to see if they are interested in trying to mediate your dispute. Unfortunately, unless mediation has been mandated by the court, you can only go to mediation if your opposing party agrees to it. For more information, click to visit Free Mediation.
What happens if I do not attend a mandatory mediation?
If you are the plaintiff and do not attend mandatory mediation, your case will be dismissed. If you are the defendant and do not attend a mandatory mediation, the plaintiff can obtain a default judgment against you without any court hearing. Click to visit Obtaining a Small Claims Default Judgment and Setting Aside a Small Claims Default Judgment.
Do I have to make an agreement during mediation?
Even if attendance at mediation is mandatory as part of your small claims case, it is not mandatory that you make an agreement during mediation. Mediation is a process that allows both parties to explore the possibility of resolving the case if they can reach a compromise that they both can live with. No one is forced to settle.
What happens if I do reach an agreement with the opposing party?
If you do reach an agreement with the opposing party, the mediator will write up the agreement for you on one of the NJC’s forms. Both parties will sign the written agreement. That agreement then becomes a written contract and can be enforced by both parties.
If one party breaches the agreement, the other party can obtain a judgment without having to go to a hearing by notifying the court of the default. Defendants should be aware that if they sign an agreement in mediation and then breach the agreement, they will not have an opportunity to contest either the breach or the underlying issue in court.
To get a judgment in the Las Vegas Justice Court, if a party breaches the agreement you may need to file a Motion to Enter Mediated Agreement as Judgment. The other side can file an opposition to your motion if they disagree. You can download the motion and opposition for the Las Vegas Justice Court by clicking to visit theLas Vegas Justice Court Small Claims Forms page. The forms are also available, free of charge, at the Self-Help Center, or you can link to them by clicking underneath the form’s title below:
OPPOSITION TO MOTION TO ENTER MEDIATED AGREEMENT AS JUDGMENT (LAS VEGAS ONLY)
TIP! Be cautious of signing a mediation agreement that imposes a monetary penalty for breaching the agreement. (Such an agreement could say, for example, that you have to pay an extra $1,000 if you don’t perform what’s required under the agreement.) Be sure you completely understand the agreement before you sign!
What happens if I do not reach an agreement during mediation?
If you do not reach an agreement during voluntary mediation with the NJC, you can then proceed with a lawsuit and sue the other side in small claims court.
If you fail to reach an agreement after a mandatory mediation, the court will schedule a hearing for your case. Small claims hearings in Henderson will take place immediately after the mediation. Court hearings in North Las Vegas will be set for a future date and time after the mediation.