How many times have you heard of a divorced couple that has been dragging with children through court for years? Or lawsuit that your neighbor filed almost a decade ago and it still has not been closed? Even though litigation (which is just a legal term for a lawsuit) is sometimes necessary, there are more ways to settle disputes than ending up in court.
Mediation is nothing else than just another form of informal dispute resolution procedure, facilitated by a neutral third party – a mediator. Unlike litigation, mediation gives both parties an opportunity to negotiate and discuss their issues, and eventually possibly to come to an agreement. It is important to highlight that mediator does not have any legal rights of decision making, and all decisions are made by parties together. A mediator does not serve any party, and their task is to understand the positions of both parties, as they try to guide them to a negotiated agreement (without forcing any).
With that being said, it is obvious that both processes are very important, but let us take a look at numerous advantages of choosing mediation over litigation:
- Less Time – Unlike litigation that can take years (and usually does), mediation lasts only about a few days, weeks, or months if the dispute is very complex. It allows both parties to continue with their lives much quicker.
- Less Money – With the process being way less formal, it allows it to be significantly cheaper than formal legal dispute. When you combine it with a shorter period of time, you will end up paying way less money for a much shorter period of time. Also, keep in mind that some non-profit organizations offer these services for free (or at a symbolic rate).
- Less Formal – As already said, mediation is an informal conflict-resolving process. As such, it allows both parties to engage more in the negotiation, than it would be allowed in the courtroom where strict rules are applied. This way the mediator and both parties can be focused on finding the best solution for both.
- Discreet – Opposing to cases that end up at court, mediation has a benefit of staying private. No records, transcripts or evidence can be used later in court. For some cases, this solely could be a great reason to choose mediation (or not to).
- Saves Relationships – The collaborative nature of the whole process allows both parties to stay at good terms. Years spend in court are well-known for destroying people’s relationships, as in litigation the only goal is to “win”, instead to agree.
- More Flexible And In Control – Litigation usually leaves you with little to no control over the process, while mediation allows you to be fully in control over the upshot.
- Better Solution – For all these benefits, people who have been through it usually report better results than those who filed lawsuits. Especially because this is not a win or lose situation, but rather the process of mutual understanding where the needs of both parties are met.
After all these benefits listed above, you are probably wondering why does anyone goes straight to the lawsuit instead of just choosing much quicker, cheaper, and better option in general? Mediation indeed is a great way to resolve misunderstandings, but it is far from being the best option for every case. Disputes that usually would benefit out of formality are business conflicts, which usually require expert knowledge on a certain subject. In those situations, best would be to seek help from experts in business legal disputes, such as Stevensen business lawyers. There are also plenty of cases where after a failed mediation, parties have turned to more formal legal processes – lawsuits. It is usually the case when both parties are under a very high emotional distress that the subject of a dispute is causing them. Under such emotional distress, it is often impossible to negotiate, and strict rules that the courtroom provides are necessary.
A mediation is a process that both parties need to agree on, therefore it is a voluntary process. It is most common and best advised for small claims courts, housing and family courts, as well as some criminal court programs. It is most common for divorced couples who cannot reach the middle ground but are reasonable enough to negotiate. Since mediation is a non-confrontational process, it allows both parties to truly try to listen and understand each other, without trying to pinpoint on who did what and whose is guilt to bare. It is a process that is simple, quick and inexpensive. Only two things that it requires are emotional stability and willingness to cooperate.
Legal procedures are almost always messy and far from black and white. Now that you are familiar with positive as well as negative sides of mediation, you can carefully estimate your situation to see if giving mediation a chance is a good option for your case.
Guest author, Daniel Brown, is a law graduate and a passionate blogger from Sydney. His areas of interest are alternative dispute resolution and its applicability in different fields of law, IP law and resolution of disputes arising from intellectual property infringement and commerce law.