There are several ways that a business dispute can be resolved, but litigation is usually not the preferred method for doing so. While many businesses will enter the courtroom in order to protect their rights, litigation may be considered by some businesses only as a last resort when other methods of dispute resolution have failed. Not only is litigation expensive (some businesses will have to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to their legal teams before the dispute even makes it to the courthouse), but it is time-consuming as well.
Mediation is one form of business dispute resolution available to business owners who find themselves at odds with a customer, another business, or some other person or entity. In order to understand if mediation is appropriate in your situation, it is helpful to understand what mediation entails as well as what your business mediation lawyer can do.
Defining Mediation and Beginning the Mediation Process
Mediation is a form of alternate dispute resolution (ADR) in which two parties with a dispute between them submit their dispute to a neutral, third-party mediator. The mediator’s task is to attempt to broker an agreement between the parties that will spare the parties from having to litigate the dispute in court. The mediator may do so by helping the each party to appreciate the merits of the other party’s’ situation while helping each party to appreciate the weaknesses in their own claims. A mediator may propose a solution to the parties, but no solution is binding on the parties unless all parties agree to make it so.
Mediation may begin with both parties agreeing to participate, or mediation may be ordered by the court overseeing the parties’ dispute. While either party may leave the mediation proceeding at any time, when mediation is court-ordered there is usually an expectation that the parties will participate and attempt in good faith to reach an agreement.
What to Expect in Mediation
Parties participating in mediation will usually meet with the mediator in one or more sessions at a neutral location. While it is not common for parties participating in mediation to have their attorneys present in the room with them, the parties and mediator may agree to do so in certain cases. During the session(s), the mediator will attempt to initiate and sustain a dialogue between you and the other party or parties with the goal of reaching a mutually-agreeable resolution to the dispute. If such a resolution cannot be reached, the parties may then choose to litigate their dispute or attempt another method of ADR.
In a mediation proceeding, it is important to always look after your and your business’s well-being. A mediated agreement may save you money over litigation in the short-term but may negatively impact your business in the long-term.
This article was originally published on jgpc.com.