You’ve just had another argument with the same person for the thousandth time. You’re going around in circles arguing about the same thing and the same issues. It’s going nowhere – you’ve had enough!
You contact your solicitor and tell them you want to take the matter to Court. It’s the only way to finally resolve this.
However, your solicitor informs you that there are actually other ways to resolve disputes rather than going straight to Court, such as mediation. In fact, for most civil matters, the Court requires parties to attend mediation before they can proceed to Court.
Your solicitor tells you that mediation is an effective method of resolving issues between parties – they even tell you that most matters settle during mediation and no longer require going to Court!
Surprised that there are alternatives to Court, mediation does sound like something you’d like to pursue instead. But there are still a lot of other questions running around your head. What is it? What’s the difference? How much does it cost?
Why should I go ahead with mediation?
Your solicitor explains that mediation is a structured alternative to litigation. It requires having an objective, neutral, third-party present to help assist parties to identify the issues and come to a solution that would be beneficial for both sides.
Mediation allows you to control the discussion, as opposed to going to Court where the judge will do the talking and decide the case on your behalf.
The mediator acts as a facilitator to ensure that the discussion is flowing and effective. The mediator however, does not provide advice or make any decisions – they are simply the neutral bystander making sure that you and the other party are breaking down the nitty gritty of all issues, your interests, and any options available, in hopes of coming to a resolution that will benefit not just you, but the other party also.
Wouldn’t going straight to Court be better?
While Court seems like the best option, depending on your situation, sometimes it is better to explore alternative options.
There are numerous benefits to choosing mediation. These include:
- Quick – Court can often drag on for months or years. Mediation can often resolve issues in as little as one session;
- Cheap – Mediation is significantly cheaper than Court, particularly when considering the costs involved in preparing documents, attending court, and if you lose, the possibility of having to pay the other side’s legal fees;
- Informal and voluntary – Mediation is not formal and as intimidating as Court can be. Mediation provides a more relaxed atmosphere which involves only the parties involved and a neutral third-party. Mediation is also voluntary, so you can choose to opt out at any time;
- Confidential – The issues discussed during mediation are confidential;
- Agreement – Mediation involves the third-party assisting both parties in coming to a mutually beneficial agreement. This is beneficial compared to going to Court, as the Court makes orders based on the law, which at times may not be in both parties’ interests.
Is mediation for me?
While the benefits of mediation sound appealing, it is not for everyone.
Mediation involves both parties openly discussing all issues that both parties may have. Depending on your situation, openly talking about sensitive issues may not be in your best interest.
If you are considering mediation as a possible alternative, ask yourself these questions:
- Would you feel more comfortable having a third-party involved?
- Are discussions between you and the other party going around in circles?
- Would you prefer to have someone help you get the discussion running?
- Do you want to maintain a relationship with the other party after?
- Would you prefer to decide the potential solution between you and the other side?
- Are you finding that the existing options aren’t satisfying both parties, and feel like there aren’t any more different options?
If your response was ‘yes’ to most or all of these questions, mediation is definitely something you can benefit from.