Byline: Alan Jacobs
I have been involved in dispute resolution for more than 30 years and in that time I have seen radical changes in the way people view mediation.
Gone are the days when fighting it out in the courts was the norm; today mediation is a trusted means of settling business squabbles.
Why is that? The time and cost involved in taking disputes through the legal process is now punitive.
The courts actively encourage mediation - and mediation works.
Indeed, it is claimed to be effective in some 90 per cent of commercial disputes - a settlement is usually reached on the day, or within a few days of the start of the process. (As a mediator my personal success rate is running at 92 per cent) Two cases I mediated, and which both settled within eight hours, were a personal injury stress claim for pounds 250,000+ and another for pounds 2 million involving the performance of a call centre and print management contract.
Mediation can avoid months of anguish and bitterness, and often unpleasant recriminations.
Hyped up protagonists may start out determined to have their day in court but on calmer reflection mediation seems the more sensible route.
So, what is mediation? At its simplest, it is a way of resolving disputes without the need to go to court.
If both sides agree then a trained mediator, who is an impartial third party, hopefully guides them to a settlement.
The mediator does not impose a decision or attempt to judge the merits of the case. Mediation seeks common ground and looks to find the best outcome for all.
How does it work? The mediator needs to be a good listener, allowing everyone their say and exploring often deep rooted issues. …