Mediating business disputes is always worth considering. The courts encourage parties to mediate and the Judges have the power to hit a party on costs, if it refuses to mediate. However, the courts cannot force the parties mediate.
It remains a popular option and in 2012, CEDR (one of the leading providers of mediators) estimated 8,000 mediations were taking place a year.
Mediation can result in terms of settlement being reached without the need for the matter to run all the way to trial. That can create significant savings of time, cost and stress. The mediator doesn't make any judgments or decide who is right or wrong. He is neutral and simply helps the parties investigate possible terms of settlement. He cannot force the parties to reach terms.
But mediating business disputes Sounds Complicated And Expensive
Mediation can sound like a scary and expensive process. It needn't be. It is however, important to pick an experienced and suitable mediator. There are lots and lots of lawyers and non-lawyers who have taken mediation training. There is a huge gulf in the quality of the good and bad mediators. Mediators are not regulated by the Law Society (unless the mediator is also a solicitor) so it is important the parties do their homework before selecting a mediator.
Small Claims Mediation
Since April 2013, all small claims are automatically referred to the small claims mediation service. However, it simply remains an option available which both parties need to agree to use. The courts cannot force the parties to use it and in small claims the risk of an impact on costs is unlikely (costs in small claims usually being irrecoverable regardless of the outcome).
Should I Mediate?
Mediating business disputes is usually worth engaging in. Very often, terms are reached and even if they are not, the parties will have a better idea of how far they are apart from reaching settlement and certain issues may have been narrowed or made clearer.