On January 1, 2020, a new California law will take effect that requires lawyers to make sure their clients understand the implications of California’s legal protections for mediation communications, before the client agrees to mediation.
If the client has already agreed to mediation before seeking counsel – by participating in a divorce mediation, or signing a contract with a mediation clause, for instance – then informed consent will be required as soon as possible after engaging counsel.
Senate Bill 954 by State Senator Bob Wieckowski will add a new Evidence Code section 1129, and a new paragraph (a)(3) to the existing section 1122.
The new section will require the attorney to obtain their client’s signature on a separate printed disclosure form confirming the client understands the main code section providing mediation confidentiality, Evidence Code section 1119.
The informed consent disclosure will need to be in the preferred language of the client. The new law will specify the contents of a sample form which attorneys can elect to use as a way to ensure they have complied with the new requirement.