Mediation is a means of alternative dispute resolution. Instead of going to court, you and the other parties communicate with one other to try to work out your own issues. You do this with the help of a mediator, a neutral third party who facilitates discussion but does not have the authority to make decisions or judgments regarding the outcome.
There is a strong association between mediation and family law. However, it can be used to resolve just about any kind of dispute in just about any practice area. This means that it also has applications for business law.
While mediation is usually a voluntary arrangement between disputants, sometimes it is mandated. This can happen if a court issues an order requiring that parties to a dispute undergo mediation. However, in a business context, it is increasingly common for contracts to include clauses requiring alternative dispute resolution in the event of conflict.
Whether mandated or voluntary, mediation has a good success rate. However, the success rate for voluntary mediation tends to be better because the participants are willing. When mediation is mandated, one or more of the participants may be reluctant, which can disrupt the process.
The process of mediation includes three main stages. The mediator starts off by explaining the rules and outlining the process. If the participants are not already acquainted, the mediator will introduce them. Each side of the dispute has the opportunity to describe its position in an opening remark. Then discussion takes place in a joint session with the mediator and all participants or in private meetings between the mediator and only one of the disputants at a time.
Even though some participants may be reluctant to engage in mediation, it does offer several significant benefits. While court documents become a part of the public record, meaning anyone can look at them, mediation is a confidential process. Even when mediation is mandated, parties to it have the freedom to reject unsatisfactory proposals. Parties to a mandated mediation have to at least make an attempt. However, if no resolution can be reached, litigation remains an option.
In most cases, mediation does reach a successful conclusion, with a resolution acceptable to both parties. This typically takes less time than it would to litigate the matter, and therefore costs less money. Many people feel more comfortable with mediation because it is a less formal process than court proceedings.
Contact a law office if you would like to try mediating a business dispute. A business lawyer in Wilkes-Barre, PA, like from Hoegen & Associates, P.C., can assess whether this is a good option for resolution of your dispute.