Litigation is expensive, stressful and time consuming with commercial disputes often taking months or years of costly litigation, with no certainty as to the outcome and no guarantee of a result that satisfies the parties. Often what the parties need cannot be achieved through the court process whereas during the mediation process, key issues and interests are identified and the flexibility of the process allows for imaginative and comprehensive solutions.

Mediation (the most popular form of Alternative Dispute Resolution) is one of the fastest and most cost-effective methods of achieving a satisfactory result for both parties and is increasingly being used by parties looking for a commercial resolution to their dispute.

The objective of a mediator is to find a workable solution that both parties can agree on to finalise a settlement, ending the need to go to court for final judgement. The mediator, jointly chosen by both parties, will be completely neutral and impartial. Ahead of the mediation, the mediator will be sent details of the dispute to ensure they are fully briefed and have an understanding of both parties’ issues.

The mediation process is completely confidential and can help to avoid the unwelcome publicity that can occur when taking a case to court. Settlements made during mediation do not set precedents for disputes in the future that have similar circumstances and if, in the unlikely event of the mediation being unsuccessful and the dispute continues to court, any concessions made during the mediation process will not be disclosed or taken into account.

With the assistance of the mediator and the support of their legal advisers, the parties are able to discuss the dispute, negotiate with each other to move forward to a resolution. This is within a totally safe and confidential environment, where nothing that is said or done can prejudice the parties’ position if it proves impossible to reach agreement on the day, and a court process is necessary.

Mediation is a voluntary process, but the courts are increasingly encouraging it as an option that should be considered. With the help of an experienced mediator the benefits of reaching an agreement through mediation can be substantial, both financially and personally, making the need to go to court, a last resort.