David Richbell FCIArb (Mediation)

Commercial Mediator & ADR Specialist

What is Mediation?

Mediation is considered to be a cost-effective and credible way of resolving all manner of commercial disputes. It is now tried and tested and forms part of the established Civil Justice System, which puts the courts as the last resort for resolving disputes. There is nothing to lose and much to be gained by the mediation process.

Mediation is effective in achieving solutions that meet the needs of both or all the disputing parties.

For Business - it gives a good chance of avoiding lengthy and expensive litigation. That chance is high because approximately eight out of ten mediations settle. It means avoiding wasted management time and looking to the future, not fighting history.

For Law Firms - there is a greater chance of having a satisfied client and so generating further business. Clients like being helped to successfully negotiate commercial deals in resolving disputes.

Mediation is a voluntary, non-binding, private, dispute resolution process in which a neutral person helps the parties to reach a negotiated settlement. Mediation:

• is an assisted negotiation – the next stage when direct negotiations deadlock

• is quick (arranged in less than a week if necessary) and cost effective (usually one or a maximum of two days)

• is private, confidential, without prejudice. If it does not settle what is said cannot be used in court, thus minimising the risks involved and having the best interests of the parties involved at heart.

• moves the emphasis from legal argument to commercial realism, from fighting the past to building the future

• gives the power of settlement to the parties not to the judge/jury/arbitrator. The lawyers are there to help their client achieve the best deal.

What happens at a mediation?

Most mediations last one day. (Some more complex disputes may take longer). This helps the parties to focus on the key issues.

• There will be some pre-mediation contact by the mediator with the parties/lawyers to ensure that everyone is comfortable and that all will go smoothly on the day.

• The day itself normally starts with an open meeting where each party presents their position to be resolved.

• There will then be a series of private meetings between the mediator and each party.

• The day will continue with both open and private meetings until a resolution is achieved.

• If a settlement is reached an agreement will be put in writing and signed by each party.

Mediation is effective because the mediator is an independent neutral who is committed to helping the parties settle, but who does not have a stake in the dispute or the outcome.

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