(a) Discovery. Unless stipulated by the parties or ordered by the court, the mediation process shall not suspend discovery.
(b) General Procedures.
(1) Interim or Emergency Relief. A party may apply to the court for interim or emergency relief at any time. Mediation shall continue while such a motion is pending absent a contrary order of the court, or a decision of the mediator to adjourn pending disposition of the motion. Time for completing mediation shall be tolled during any periods when mediation is interrupted pending resolution of such a motion.
(2) Sanctions. If a party fails to appear at a duly noticed mediation conference without good cause, or knowingly and willfully violates any confidentiality provision under section 44.405, Florida Statutes, the court upon motion shall impose sanctions, including an award of mediator and attorneys’ fees and other costs, against the party.
(3) Adjournments. The mediator may adjourn the mediation conference at any time and may set times for reconvening the adjourned conference. No further notification is required for parties present at the adjourned conference.
(4) Counsel. Counsel shall be permitted to communicate privately with their clients. The mediator shall at all times be in control of the mediation and the procedures to be followed in the mediation.
(5) Communication with Parties. The mediator may meet and consult privately with any party or parties or their counsel.
(6) Appointment of the Mediator.
(A) Within 10 days of the order of referral, the parties may agree upon a stipulation with the court designating:
(i) a certified mediator, other than a senior judge presiding over civil cases as a judge in that circuit; or
(ii) a mediator, other than a senior judge, who is not certified as a mediator but who, in the opinion of the parties and upon review by the pre-siding judge, is otherwise qualified by training or experience to mediate all or some of the issues in the particular case.
(B) If the parties cannot agree upon a mediator within 10 days of the order of referral, the plaintiff or petitioner shall so notify the court within 10 days of the expiration of the period to agree on a mediator, and the court shall appoint a certified mediator selected by rotation or by such other procedures as may be adopted by administrative order of the chief judge in the circuit in which the action is pending.
(C) If a mediator agreed upon by the parties or appointed by a court cannot serve, a substitute mediator can be agreed upon or appointed in the same manner as the original mediator. A mediator shall not mediate a case assigned to another mediator without the agreement of the parties or approval of the court. A substitute mediator shall have the same qualifications as the original mediator.