Virtually all societies have developed non-adjudicative methods to resolve disputes. Third party intervention to help resolve disputes consensually, typically called mediation or conciliation, occurs in all cultures throughout the world. It now occurs in Costa Rica only voluntarily and primarily in family, community, labor, agricultural, and trade contexts.
Connecting mediation or conciliation to court systems provides a comparatively new use of third party interventions not involving adjudication through arbitration or litigation. This typically occurs by referring matters for mediation services provided by state-funded programs, private centers, and private mediators. Florida, the first American state to authorize courts to order mediation broadly across their civil dockets, uses mediation extensively to resolve all or parts of contested small claims, county court, family, juvenile dependency, and circuit court matters. A workshop at the Fourth Annual Conference on Legal and Policy Issues in the Americas, held in San Jose, Costa Rica, on June 24-26, 2004, brought lawyers, law professors, and law students from Costa Rica and Florida together to discuss mutual interests in mediation. Costa Rican participants at this session shared concerns that voluntary mediation does not occur as frequently and in as many contexts as they believe it should in their country. They recommended that mediation's use in Costa Rica should be expanded.
Donald C. Peters, To Sue is Human; To Settle Divine: Intercultural Collaborations to Expand the Use of Mediation in Costa Rica, 17 Fla. J. Int’l L. 9 (2005), available at http://scholarship.law.ufl.edu/facultypub/22