Alternative Forms of Dispute Resolution – Mediation

13-10-2011 12:37

Often the potential costs of and risks associated with litigation can lead parties to consider the use of Alternative forms of Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a means of resolving litigation (or potential litigation). The courts are also keen to encourage the use of ADR as a means of resolving disputes in order to reduce the burden placed on the courts.

There is at present a general drive by Government and the courts to encourage parties either contemplating or engaged in litigation to consider the use of ADR as a means of resolving the dispute and in particular the use of mediation. As we have discussed in a previous blog, the Government has signed up to a “Dispute Resolution Commitment”. The courts are also considering whether to impose compulsory mediation in certain small claims.

In civil litigation, mediation is a process by which the parties to litigation (or possible litigation) agree to meet on a “without prejudice” basis to discuss the dispute and their respective positions and, with the aid of a trained mediator, attempt to identify a means of resolving the dispute that is, insofar as possible, satisfactory to each of the parties. This is often a useful process as, even where no settlement is reached at the mediation, discussion is often prompted that may eventually lead to settlement. At the very least parties will tend to have a better understanding of the dispute following mediation and this could reduce the costs of litigation.

There are various bodies that provide trained mediators and the Ministry of Justice has launched an online directory to enable the public to search for local mediators accredited by the Civil Mediation Council. Mediator’s fees will generally be fixed provided the value of the claim is less than £50,000. The web tool can be found at http://www.civilmediation.justice.gov.uk/.

If you require further information regarding mediation please contact us.

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