With the large-scale withdrawal of legal aid funding in civil litigation and the ever-increasing workload on the civil courts, Government is trying to encourage out of court settlements to manage these changes in the fabric of the legal system. Lawyers know this type of practice as Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR.ADR is any process for the resolution of a dispute outside the courtroom. The simplest and most common form of ADR is direct negotiation between those in dispute, often leading to a solution. It can sometimes depend on the complexity of a situation or how the parties are feeling about a litigated alternative.
Where direct negotiation cannot resolve a dispute, a range of other options might be on hand, including mediation.
Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party, the mediator learns about a dispute between two or more parties and uses techniques and experience to help the parties settle their differences, by brokering a deal.
By resolving disputes in mediation, parties determine for themselves what is important and, ultimately the outcome of the situation. Key benefits to mediation are the speed at which it can resolve a dispute (not least by avoiding lengthy court fixed timetables) and the immense saving on legal fees.
Overall success rates at mediation are high with some research putting the average settlement rate at about 90% (with 74% achieving settlement on the day of mediation and the rest soon after, following a mediation session).
Mediation provides a safe environment for negotiation because the mediator can control and direct communications. In this way, unproductive discussion is avoided, and proposals are communicated in an otherwise more positive light meaning they are more likely to lead to a settlement.
All decision-makers necessary to resolve a problem would normally attend so that everyone who needs to can sign a legally binding document setting out the terms of agreement.
A point to remember is that mediation is a voluntary process - the parties themselves are always in control.
At Fosters Solicitors LLP, we offer cost effective, expert solutions to disputes. Chris Fielding heads the Dispute Resolution and Litigation team having spent many years successfully representing at structured mediation across the region and further afield.
If you would like to arrange a meeting to discuss your needs in relation to a dispute, please contact us on 01603 723708/723786.