If you are in business for any time at all, it’s inevitable that at some time you are going to get into a dispute with a customer or a supplier. If you’re looking to a Judge to resolve these matters for you, you need to keep in mind that the Courts are moving very much nowadays towards Alternative Dispute Resolution such as Arbitration or Adjudication, often specifically included in certain types of contracts. Something which is also becoming extremely popular nowadays is Mediation. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mediation, it’s a process where both sides agree to meet together, away from the Court system, using the services of an independent Mediator who is specially trained to help both parties come to an agreement which will suit both of them.
There are advantages and disadvantages to this process, the main advantage being that in most cases, even if you take into account the cost of a Mediator – and that is shared between the parties – overall, it often works out cheaper than going through the Court process all the way to trial. Also, you save the time and stress of going through the Court process with the uncertainty and risks of litigation – something I believe is very important for business.
Even if you don’t manage to settle on the day, the process also helps to thrash out some of the points of disagreement between you. I have seen some cases where, even if people don’t manage to settle on the day, sometimes they settle shortly afterwards.
There is one disadvantage if you don’t settle – if you do have to then go on to trial, you incur the additional cost of Mediation but I would say that in my experience, the advantages certainly outweigh the disadvantages. Mediation is extremely popular with the Courts and a Judge at trial will always ask whether the parties have tried Mediation and if they haven’t or one party has refused it, the Judge does have the power to make the Costs Orders as a penalty against the stubborn party – that’s a serious warning about Costs! In conclusion, if you do ever fall out with other parties in business, think carefully about how you can look at resolving it in an alternative way before involving the Courts. At Curwens we have many years of helping clients in these situations so just have a look at our website