CommunicationAre you embroiled in a dispute with another party? Do you feel it is heading nowhere but to the court? The obvious problems with court intervention include the uncertainty and costs. What is even more frustrating can be on disclosure of evidence you find the whole matter could have been resolved at far less cost beforehand.

These days the courts are over-burdened and one way to ease the workload falls under the remit of Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”). Any litigation solicitor will tell you the court encourages ADR to the point if a matter does go through the court process only then for the judge to hear one side unreasonably declined (or failed to adhere to agreed terms of) mediation then it can have serious cost consequences.

I have mentioned “Mediation” but what does it actually entail? In short, both parties agree to the appointment of an accredited mediator who receives submissions from both sides. On the day designated for the mediation a joint meeting is held where both parties have the opportunity to state their position before breaking off into separate meetings with the mediator controlling the day, going between the separate rooms and, if thought fit, bringing the parties back together in the joint meeting.

It should be said a mediator is not an advisor, merely a neutral facilitator assisting the parties reach a negotiated settlement. The benefit is a mediator will be aware of the arguments of both parties and, with the representations made, aim to get both parties thinking about the merits (or otherwise) of their position and looking at what the alternative is likely to entail. Another benefit is cost, which is substantially lower than court intervention.

Another point to raise is mediation can take place after court proceedings have commenced. Indeed, the court has previously demonstrated a willingness to suspend proceedings in order to allow mediation to take place.

In essence, to argue your position will only promote costly legal proceedings. Being prepared to take a step back, allow time for both sides to prepare their case in readiness to debate the points in dispute, promotes a cheaper, quicker and occasionally far more satisfactory outcome for both sides.

For more information on the merits of mediation please contact Gary Pettit, CEDR Accredited Mediator at PBC Mediation Services on (01604) 212150 or email Gary at garypettit@pbcbusinessrecovery.co.uk.

This article was first published in the April 2015 edition of The Business Times.