Chris was called in to work on another mediation recently, which turned into a marathon 16 hours continuous session. But with well over a £1M at stake there was a lot to play for so a signed agreement at the end showed it was time well spent.
One of the great attractions of mediation is that there is strict secrecy about the details – so we can’t tell you who was there, exactly what the dispute was about or what the final settlement was (except that “no publicity” was one of the terms!).
The situation was a commercial matter arising from the sale of a business, where the buyer didn’t get what he thought he’d paid for, and the seller didn’t get the price they’d agreed. Both sides felt aggrieved, and wanted compensation from the other.
As is typical in these situations, each side had become entrenched, and was spending a small fortune on lawyers and specialist financial and business advisers, so there were over a dozen people around the table! Needless to say both sides had started legal action and engaged expensive Counsel, but with a court date looming, and doubts creeping in about the chances of winning, both sides were well advised to seek an alternative to litigation. And why not? After all, if mediation failed they still had the court proceedings to fall back on.
Despite the anger and hostility at the outset, the two sides ended the day exhausted but happy, able to shake hands and look each other in the eye; and excited that the black cloud of a seemingly irresolvable dispute mired in resentment and distrust had metamorphosed into a new day with new opportunities – all the past problems were gone, the expensive legal actions could be halted, and time, money and effort saved. In short, they were free to get on with the rest of their lives.
The success of mediation in resolving disputes is now so well recognised that it has been adopted recently in the English judiciary as a mandatory step in divorce cases prior to a full court hearing (ICIPIA does not operate in this area).
Most mediations last only a single day (even if it’s a 16 hour one!!) and cost only a few thousand pounds. Compare that with typically tens or even hundreds of thousands in costs for a full court hearing plus timescales measured in months and it’s clear that mediation has a lot to offer.
It’s perhaps worthy of note that mediation is even being used now during commercial negotiations before any dispute – such as during merger or acquisitions talks – to explore ways to avoid disputes arising in the first place.
ICIPIA always hosts the first meeting free of charge to establish if mediation is appropriate for both parties.
Talk to us at ICIPIA if this sounds like a way forward for you.