by Daniel Muckle
Dispute Resolution Solicitor Daniel Muckle explains how you don't always need to use the courts to resolve a dispute!
In every dispute matter communication is key, but when communication breaks down, going to court may seem to be the only option left. However, there is an alternative.
I recently gave a presentation at a networking event about Alternative Dispute Resolution, and in particular, mediation. Many attendees said they had never heard of mediation let alone why it is usually a better way to resolve a dispute than running off to court.
To start with, the parties have full control over the mediation process. They can mediate at any time, and often within a few months of the dispute arising, whereas it can take many months, if not years, for a court case to reach a final hearing, let alone any appeal that may follow.
Mediation also offers great flexibility and certainty, allowing parties to resolve the dispute on terms that best suits their circumstances. A court decision is, by its very nature, constrained and unpredictable.
How long does mediation take? The mediation itself is relatively short, usually lasting no more than one day. It is also informal, and parties don’t even have to see each other at all. It therefore avoids the stress of a lengthy court process and a final hearing that can last many days, with parties often giving evidence and being cross examined all in the same room.
How much does mediation cost? The cost of mediation is significantly less than the substantial sums of money that can easily be spent on going to court.
Does mediation work? Perhaps the most attractive benefit of mediation is that it actually does resolve disputes. Virtually all of the many mediations I have attended throughout my years in practice have resulted in a settlement, enabling the parties to move on with their lives, and avoid the delay, cost, and stress of court proceedings.
Mediation is not a cure all, and there will always be circumstances when a dispute can only be resolved by a court. However, going to court should only ever be a step of last resort when all other attempts to resolve a dispute, including mediation, have failed.