What is mediation? Your questions answered

10th February 2015

Not every dispute has to go to court. In order to reduce the number of cases that do so, the government is actively encouraging businesses and families to try mediation as an alternative first. Refusal to mediate is considered ‘unreasonable’ by the court, as was determined recently in the Court of Appeal.

So why is this method of alternative dispute resolution considered so important and how exactly does it work? Jagdip Bains, associate solicitor in the dispute resolution team at Ansons Solicitors in Staffordshire, answers some common questions on mediation and how it works.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a way of seeking to resolve a dispute where parties involved instruct an impartial individual to mediate between them in order to come to an agreement that is satisfactory for both parties.

Mediation differs from litigation in that it is a voluntary process and both sides must agree to participate. The parties can agree to appoint anyone as the mediator and it is that person’s duty to assist and support and facilitate the process towards reaching an agreement.

How much will it cost?

The cost of mediation is dependent on the value of the dispute and its complexity. All parties share the cost of instructing the mediator, which can vary from £500 to £5,000 depending on their qualifications, experience and the complexity of the case. In general, it is much less costly than going to court. Each party is usually responsible for their own legal costs unless a compromise on costs can be reached pre-mediation or mediation itself.

What types of cases require mediation?

Once legal proceedings are issued, the courts expect all parties to engage in either mediation or another form of alternative dispute resolution. If a party refuses to mediate or even ignores an offer of mediation they will be at risk of being sanctioned by the court on the issue of costs. Mediation can be particularly useful in probate disputes, high value commercial disputes and property disputes.

Timing of mediation?

The timing of mediation is important. If parties mediate too early, they may not understand their opponent’s case and jeopardise their chances of coming to a satisfactory conclusion. Depending on the issues in dispute, parties can mediate before legal proceedings have been issued. Ordinarily, once statements of case have been completed, the courts expect parties to agree a stay of proceedings to enable mediation or another alternative dispute resolution process to take place. If you leave mediation too late, legal costs may have escalated to such an extent that it will be difficult to agree any settlement.

How long does mediation last?

Mediation usually lasts between four to eight hours. However, mediations can go on longer until late evening.

At Ansons Solicitors we can help advise you on mediation as form of dispute resolution whether you are settling a divorce, facing a construction dispute or recovering debt for your business.

For further information about mediation, please contact Jagdip Bains in the dispute resolution team, on 01543 267 196 or email Ansons Solicitors has offices in Cannock and Lichfield, Staffordshire.