Resolving Disputes: The Wonders of Mediation

After many years of curiosity, my eyes were finally opened when I recently participated in a mediation. The dispute concerned a property which had excited 3 years of grief, 1 year of court time and tens of thousands of pounds in costs.

I am a sceptic by nature. During my lifetime I have suffered many trials and tribulations, witnessed and experienced many injustices. Indeed ‘Justice’ can often seem elusive and out of reach.

Mediation had been recommended by the Judge. Indeed mediation is recommended by the Courts as a cheap, fast and cost-effective way of resolving disputes.

At the outset, however, I had my doubts. I had rated the mediator’s chance of helping both parties resolve, what appeared on its face, an intractable dispute, which had proved beyond the reach of warring parties and had taxed the minds of their lawyers for years, as hopeless. And yet within 1 day and the expert crafting hands of an experienced mediator, the deed was done and the matter was finally resolved.

Am I astonished? Yes. Can mediation help you? Only you can decide. I, however, am now convinced.  

Prior to the mediation, it had frequently felt as if the parties were banging their heads against an unresponsive, impenetrable and impassable brick wall. The mediation, however, was responsive, fluid and dynamic. The Mediator stepped across the divide and reached out to both sides, creating pathways for both parties to explore issues and enter into a sensible and productive dialogue. Most importantly the mediator listened. The Mediator will also listen to you.

It is clear to me that Mediation has a leading role to play in the resolution of disputes. The word should be spread loud and clear. Mediation could help you.

Be warned those of you who avoid mediation. Courts can impose punitive sanctions against parties who do not mediate (see PGF II SA v OMFS Company 1 Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 1288). Indeed there are many stories of otherwise successful parties both Claimants and Defendants losing all or a significant part of their costs for failing to mediate.

Here is a final word from the Judiciary. Mr Justice Norris in the recent case of Bradley v Heslin [2014] EWHC 3267 (Ch) said:

‘I add my voice to that of many other judges who urge that, even when proceedings have been issued to preserve the position, the engagement of a trained mediator is more likely to lead to an outcome satisfactory to both parties (in terms of speed, cost, resolution and future relationships) than the pursuit of litigation to  trial.’

In our case the Mediator certainly created the platform and weaved the dynamic framework upon which resolution was achieved.  

Can mediation work? Yes. I have tried it and know. Mediation successfully resolves most disputes. Mediation could also work for you.

My observation is that mediation hearings create an entirely different dynamic. It is not about winning; it is about reaching an agreement. Therefore, resolution is the only victory.

As told to Russell Evans of Resolve UK Mediation by Jeff Lampert

This blogpost is for information purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice because it does not consider or take into account your own personal circumstances. If in doubt, seek legal advice.