Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution which gets both parties to the table and encourages them to narrow and resolve issues in a dispute.
Mediation is typically a voluntary process whereby both parties and their legal teams will meet (either physically or virtually) with a qualified mediator to see whether they are able to narrow the number of issues in dispute or resolve the dispute completely. A mediation can take place before or during a court dispute.
Depending on which forum your dispute has been issued in, mediation may be a mandatory requirement by the court. The reason for this is because the courts are keen to encourage the parties to try and reach an agreement which frees up the court’s agenda and could potentially save the parties a substantial amount of legal fees and months in protracted negotiations.
If successful, mediation is often a faster and cheaper option to settling a dispute. Whilst the mediation itself is not binding, it can be made binding where court proceedings have already been issued by both parties signing a consent order agreeing to settle or do away with part or all of the dispute.
Contact our commercial mediation solicitors in East Anglia
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Why choose Ashtons Legal for commercial mediation?
At Ashtons Legal, we will always seek to resolve a business dispute at the least possible cost and at the earliest possible stage. To achieve this, we encourage our clients to engage in various dispute resolution methods including mediation, as well as negotiations, expert determination, arbitration and adjudication and where appropriate.
Our Commercial Dispute Resolution team are highly experienced in the use of mediation for businesses, with a strong track record of securing early settlements for even the most contentious legal disputes.
Ashtons Legal Chairman & Partner Michael Frape is an ADR Group Accredited Civil & Commercial Mediator, and is rated as a Legal 500 “Leading Individual” and member of the Hall of Fame for Commercial Litigation work.
Benefits of commercial mediation for business disputes
Resolve business disputes faster
Mediation is typically one of the fastest ways to resolve business disputes. Unlike court proceedings, there is no need to wait for a hearing date, you can just get on with finding a solution as soon as possible.
Avoid expensive court fees
Court litigation can be very costly, with both the court fees, your solicitor’s fees and often a barrister’s fees to take into account. Mediation is usually much more cost effective, with much less time and work involved in comparison to litigation, meaning less time that you need to pay for.
Stay in control of the outcome of your business dispute
When you rely on court proceedings to resolve a business dispute, you are placing the final decision into the hands of a judge. With mediation, you keep control over what outcome you agree and you do not have to agree to anything that does not match your interests. This can help you to get a better outcome while removing a lot of the stress and uncertainty from the situation.
Maintain better business relationships
Where you wish to continue doing business with the other party to a dispute, mediation is often the best option. This can allow you to amicably agree a resolution, while keeping conflict to a minimum. Where court proceedings become necessary, it is usually highly unlikely that you will continue to be able to do business together in future.
Protect your business’s reputation
A key benefit of commercial mediation is that it happens in private. With court proceedings, the nature of your dispute and the resolution achieved will both be public, which can potentially harm your reputation. Keeping things behind closed doors with mediation is therefore often very advantageous.
How commercial mediation works
Before the Mediation
In advance of the mediation, your solicitor will meet with you and advise your business on the strengths and weaknesses of its legal position. Your solicitor will also likely instruct a barrister (if not already instructed) who will be able to advise on the merits of continuing with the litigation and on what terms your business should look to settle, if settlement is possible at the mediation.
Your solicitors will liaise with the other side to arrange a suitable date and time for both parties to mediate and will agree on which mediator to appoint.
The Role of the Mediator
A mediator is a trained professional, usually from a legal background, who facilitates the discussion between the parties. They will meet with both sides separately and switch between virtual and/or physical meeting rooms to encourage the parties to focus their minds and think about what terms they’d like to settle on and whether that is realistic for them, given their goals.
The mediator will communicate the offers to each party, as neither will typically have direct contact with the other on the day.
The length of a mediation will vary and it will depend upon the parties’ willingness to compromise from their respective positions.
Both sides will make offers and counter offers to the other in an effort to settle the dispute.
In addition, the parties will discuss the legal issue with a view to narrowing the scope of the dispute and considering what the “deal-breakers” really are.
In the event of a success, this will typically mean the proceedings will have been settled (if issued) between the parties on a set of agreed terms. The arrangement will be documented by way of a consent order or in a formal, binding, settlement agreement.
In the event of a loss, if the parties walk away without settling, there are still advantages to having had the mediation because both parties will have a greater understanding of:
- the other’s legal position;
- what sum the other is looking for to end the dispute
- what strategies they may look to rely on to achieve a favourable outcome at court
Further Information on commercial mediation for businesses
For further information about alternative dispute resolution and mediation, please read our article Could alternative dispute resolution help settle a commercial dispute promptly?
Contact our commercial mediation solicitors
For practical advice on using commercial mediation for business disputes, as well as any other business legal advice you need to reach your goals, get in touch with your local Ashtons Legal team in in Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, and Norwich.
To set up an initial consultation: