Conflict arises in business settings as much as any other. Litigation is often the chosen course of action, and even contractual arbitration might be an option. However, it is important to remember that mediation is not just for divorce. It has proven more and more to be the best dispute resolution for many disputes.
Perhaps you and a business partner are feuding over the terms of your relationship. Maybe there is a problem with or between your employees? You might be struggling to iron out the details of an asset or share purchase or you have a simple disagreement with a supplier or distributor. Mediation can be quite effective in any of these disputes and not only that, it also remains an option in the midst of litigation proceedings and might even be most beneficial in that setting. Below are some specific benefits of mediation:
Court documents are accessible to the public and a decision at trial is likely to get published onto an online database. A mediation, however, is private, as parties are required to agree not to disclose anything that is shared in the meeting. Either party will have recourse if there is a breach by the other party. Most importantly, strict confidentiality allows for more open discussion at the mediation, as parties can speak without fear of harming their interests and can be more forthright with offers to settle, knowing that if they are not accepted, they cannot be held against them later.
Another major benefit of mediation is that the outcome is in your hands. The mediator does not make any rulings or bind you in any way. Final resolutions are only reached with informed agreement by all parties in the mediation. You might even have some degree of control over the process, making it work for you.
Saving cost and time
Finally, mediation is likely to be far more cost-effective and can end a dispute without the stress and expense that a drawn-out litigation, and an exhausting trial, will likely cause.
It is vital to know that you do not have to elect mediation instead of litigation. Rather, it is possible and may often be best to commence legal action first in order to establish your position and protect your rights. Mediation can be undertaken at any stage and often a conflict will be ripe for settlement at the point after legal positions have been set out, after documentary evidence has been exchanged, or after parties have been examined under oath. Mediation is mandatory in most civil claims brought in Toronto but you can always agree with opposing parties to hire a mediator if your claim is in another jurisdiction. Be open and discuss with your lawyer the merits of mediation and its timing in the litigation process.