Mediation is available for many types of cases, from the Small Claims Court to the High Court. It is a flexible form of dispute resolution, says litigation solicitor Serhat Sik from local solicitors Wiseman Lee
Mediation allows two parties involved in a dispute the opportunity to negotiate a settlement deal. This is the key advantage of mediation: both sides control the final agreement so long as they can identify some common ground upon which they can strike an agreed outcome.
In contrast, in court proceedings, once both sides have made their legal arguments, the final decision then rests with the trial judge, and sometimes his or her final decision may not please one or both parties.
A mediation is conducted by a trained mediator. Their job is to work with both sides to identify common ground between them as well as the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases. That way, some common ground can arise and this can start the journey to brokering a deal.
Whilst mediation can be stressful, it usually lasts for no more than a day. The usual format for mediation is that both sides meet the mediator around a table. Each party’s representatives make an opening statement after which each side goes to their respective rooms and the mediator then conducts a shuttle run between each room.
Each visit of a party’s room is aimed at appraising your own case, which means speaking about its strengths and weaknesses. It may even seem that the mediator is not on your side, but the mediator is doing the same to the other side.
Once some common ground is identified, then hopefully, it is possible to move towards negotiating a deal. Sometimes at the outset, one party has quite differing expectations about what is an acceptable outcome, but the process of mediation does tend to make parties appraise what is actually acceptable.
The key strength to mediation is knowing that it is a golden opportunity for the parties to exert control over the dispute to bring about a negotiated settlement.
Mediation can be conducted at any time, even before a final court hearing, but it is better to try mediation well before then. Ideally, mediation can be conducted once you have enough information about your opponent’s case, and vice versa. This allows both parties to be able to appraise each other’s case and position.
The earlier on in a dispute that a mediation settlement takes place, the lower the legal costs incurred. Going to court is, of course, time-consuming and expensive. Mediation can often be a negotiated outcome at a much lower cost, which all concerned can live with as a fair outcome.
Wiseman Lee is located at 9–13 Cambridge Park, Wanstead, E11 2PU. For more information, call 020 8215 1000