When you should mediate a legal dispute
Dear Clients and Friends,
One may voluntarily agree or be required (because of your contract or a court order) to participate in a mediation process. Mediation is an alternative route to settling disputes that involves negotiation with support from a neutral third-party.
You and the opposing party may agree to enter into a mediation at any time in the legal process. The mediation process is non-binding and if the parties cannot come to a resolution, your case may return to standard legal procedures. Mediation is distinct from arbitration, where an arbitrator reviews your case and makes a binding ruling.
Typically, mediation involves key decision makers from each party as well as their legal counsel. Mediation briefs are provided by each party to the Mediator regarding the facts and the law relating to the subject dispute. The mediator begins by leading the parties through a review of the dispute. Then, depending on the nature of the conflict, the mediator may place each party in separate rooms and act as a go-between to facilitate a jointly-agreeable resolution.
Advocates for mediation argue that it creates cooperative resolutions, opens the door to more innovative solutions, and may even help to preserve relationships. What’s more, mediation can provide significant cost savings over a lengthy litigation process. On the other hand, we remind clients that although the word “mediation” sounds (and is) less combative than “litigation” or “arbitration” it remains a dispute with sensitive ego, feelings and money issues and always goes best for those who act in concert with the existence of these realities, i.e. prepare for a contest.
We have, are and will continue to be in favor of mediations – it best facilitates understandings and it maintains the parties’ choice in resolving a legal dispute. The post-resolution benefits of those factors alone supports the selection of mediation as one’s preferred dispute resolution process in most cases.
However, if one proposes a mediation to an opposing party too eagerly or too early one can unwittingly paint oneself into a proverbial corner that may be regretted.
Additionally, even though entering mediation early in a conflict may save money, litigation is sometimes an essential part of the fact-finding process. Furthermore, litigation may reveal valuable information for (or against) your position.
If you are, or expect to be, involved in a legal dispute in the areas of family law, real estate or business than we invite you to call us for a free phone evaluation of your matter.