As used in this chapter, unless the context requires otherwise:
"Dispute resolution proceeding" means any structured process in which a neutral assists parties to a dispute in reaching a voluntary settlement by means of dispute resolution processes such as mediation, conciliation, facilitation, partnering, fact-finding, neutral evaluation, use of ombudsmen or any other proceeding leading to a voluntary settlement. For the purposes of this chapter, the term "dispute resolution proceeding" does not include arbitration.
"Mediation" means a process in which a neutral facilitates communication between the parties and without deciding the issues or imposing a solution on the parties enables them to understand and resolve their dispute.
"Mediation program" means a program of a public body through which mediators or mediation is made available and includes the director, agents and employees of the program.
"Mediator" means a neutral who is an impartial third party selected by agreement of the parties to a dispute to assist them in mediation.
"Neutral" means an individual who is trained or experienced in conducting dispute resolution proceedings and in providing dispute resolution services.
"Public body" means any legislative body; any authority, board, bureau, commission, district or agency of the Commonwealth or any political subdivision of the Commonwealth, including counties, cities and towns, city councils, boards of supervisors, school boards, planning commissions, boards of visitors of institutions of higher education; and other organizations, corporations or agencies in the Commonwealth supported wholly or principally by public funds. "Public body" includes any committee, subcommittee, or other entity however designated, of the public body or formed to advise the public body, including those with private sector or citizen members and corporations organized by the Virginia Retirement System. For the purposes of this chapter the term "public body" does not include courts of the Commonwealth.
"State agency" or "agency" means any authority, instrumentality, officer, board or other unit of state government empowered by the basic laws to adopt regulations or decide cases. For the purposes of this chapter, the term "state agency" does not include the courts of the Commonwealth.
2002, c. 633.