If you are an aggrieved party seeking to take action and resolve a dispute then, depending on the nature of the dispute and any prior agreement between the parties, you may have a choice as to which method of dispute resolution to use. The main dispute resolution processes include litigation, arbitration and mediation.
Mediation is a relatively new form of dispute resolution in the UK, but it is gaining momentum as more and more organisations and private individuals come to see its benefits. This process can be used in a number of settings, from employment mediation to family disputes and divorce mediation.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution which is flexible, voluntary and confidential. A neutral third-party—a ‘mediator’— helps both parties to resolve their disputes out of court by facilitating a discussion. The specially trained mediator does not take a side nor issue a decision. Instead, the mediator works with both parties, either together or separately, to help achieve a negotiated settlement.
Although mediation is not legally binding, a final agreement between the two parties, reached at mediation, can be enforced in the same way as any other contract. If a negotiated settlement cannot be achieved through mediation, then the parties can still seek dispute resolution through arbitration or litigation.
The benefits of mediation
Dealing with family disputes or conflicts in the workplace is a difficult task, but mediation can be effective in helping to resolve a tense and often emotional situation.
Settling disputes through mediation can be faster, cheaper and can leave both parties feeling in a better state of mind over the agreed decision. There are a number of other significant benefits of mediation which include:
- Greater control — Mediation does not guarantee an outcome, as no binding decision is made. Instead, the mediator works with the parties to try to find a solution, but with no guarantee that the issue will be resolved. This can mean that both parties have more control over the solution, and are not forced to accept an outcome with which they are not happy.
- Confidentiality — Litigation, whereby disputes are resolved through the court, is potentially a very public process. When disputes are settled out of court through mediation, it is entirely confidential to both parties, unless specifically agreed otherwise.
- Reduced costs — Settling disputes through court proceedings is generally very expensive and the overall costs can be highly unpredictable. Resolving disputes through mediation, however, can often be much faster and much cheaper than going to trial.
- Enhanced support — Mediation involves using a trained, neutral mediator to engage with the conflicting parties and to help them work towards finding a solution that is acceptable to both sides. The Mediator listens to all views, talks to the parties privately and sometimes together, and guides each party through the process.
- Preservation of relationships — Settling family or workplace disputes is already a difficult situation to handle, but going through a litigation battle and the stress of the courts can make it even more so, putting added pressure on the relationship between both parties. Mediation on the other hand helps both parties focus on communicating effectively with each other and coming to a negotiated settlement that works for all involved.
At Hart Brown Solicitors, our trained mediators are experts in the various legal areas in which they practice. They will guide the parties through the mediation process to try to make it as straightforward as they can in the hope and expectation that it will be possible to reach a compromise acceptable to everyone.
For more information on our mediation services contact us today by calling, emailing or requesting a call back from one of our specialist mediators.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.