An alternative is for parties in dispute to try mediation before proceedings. Pre-action dispute resolution is now common place. Very often it is a requirement within a contractual dispute resolution process.
Speed: Mediation is available to parties almost immediately. The preparation for mediation is not as demanding or as costly as litigation. An appointment and all relevant preparation can usually be achieved within two weeks.
Cost: The cost of preparation and representation is a matter for each party. Some parties will be happy to explore mediation before involving lawyers and mediation lends itself to informal negotiation. A mediator is usually required for one half or one full day and the cost is shared by the parties. The cost itself will vary depending upon the experience of the mediator, the preparation time the mediator requires and, in some cases, the value of the dispute.
Suitability: Mediation is suitable for almost any dispute from simple disputed debt cases to complex IT disputes. It is very commonly used and particularly useful in cases where court costs are disproportionate to the dispute and where complexity may lead to lengthy litigation. It is also a “softer” way of dealing with disputes between parties who have an ongoing relationship as with customers/suppliers, employers/employees, shareholders and partners.
The process: The mediation itself can take any form suitable for the parties and the dispute. The experience of the mediator will help guide the parties but mediation gives the parties more control on the management of the dispute.
Mediation can be cost effective, provide a quick resolution and preserve relationships.