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Mediation – Listen to their story

People Sitting around a table discussing


I want to tell you my story

Hands up if you have been in an argument.  What usually happens?  They raise their voice so you raise yours and so on until it becomes a shouting match and the cause of the debate gets pushed aside while other issues come to the fore.  Sound familiar?

Common claims parties say to me in the run up for a mediation include:

  • The matter is complicated; or
  • Although willing, I am not sure how this can be settled; or
  • The other side have been doing something untoward/fraudulent etc.

One of the problems is the longer a dispute is allowed to run the more the core reason for that dispute pales into the background and claims and counterclaims are thrown back and forth.  In shareholder disputes it can get worse as disputing shareholders make allegations of misconduct, then act on those beliefs, forgetting their own statutory duties owed to the company.

So, with the above in mind, how is it that more often than not disputes reach a settlement in mediation?  I read something recently that said,

“The question is not how to avoid conflict but how to do it well.”

As I was once told, we have two ears and one mouth; we have been designed like that for a reason.  All too often in a dispute scenario we forget the core basics of listening and talking by resorting to raising our voices, hoping the one that shouts loudest will win the day.  Unfortunately, all it generally achieves is a steadily increasing legal bill, court intervention and an unwanted distraction to your business.

A mediator re-introduces the core communication attributes back into the forum and it is surprising how getting each party to listen to the story of their opponent extracts the facts, which ultimately leads to reaching a common position.  This usually leads to settlement as the parties get to understand the facts behind the cause of the dispute from their opponents’ point of view.

Refusal to mediate or, simply agree to mediation so you can “Tick the alternative dispute resolution box” can be dangerous territory.  If a court take the view you could have avoided court intervention by settling through mediation you may be at serious risk to an adverse costs order as many have already discovered to their cost.  Therefore, if there appears to be a chance of settling a dispute you should consider mediation at the earliest practicable date.

Should you have an insolvency-related issue or a corporate dispute then please contact Gary Pettit at PBC Business Recovery & Insolvency on (01604) 212150 (Northampton office) or (01234) 834886 (Bedford office). Alternatively, you may send an email to or access our website at