If you’re a business owner, the chances are good that you will eventually find yourself involved in some type of commercial litigation. Whether it’s a contract dispute, a partner disagreement, or something else entirely, business disputes are unfortunately a common occurrence. While litigation can sometimes be necessary to resolve a dispute, it’s not always the best option—especially when time and money are factors. That’s where mediation comes in.
Jeremy Schulman defines commercial litigation mediation as an alternative dispute resolution process that allows parties to resolve their differences without going to court. In mediation, the parties meet with a neutral third-party mediator who helps them reach an agreement. While mediation is not binding, it is often successful in resolving disputes without the need for costly and time-consuming litigation.
Mediation is a process through which parties in a dispute attempt to reach a resolution with the help of a neutral third-party mediator. In mediation, the mediator does not make decisions or issue rulings; instead, they facilitate discussion and help the parties generate options for resolving their dispute. Mediation is typically less formal than traditional litigation, and it does not require the same rigid rules of evidence or procedure. This can allow for a more flexible and creative approach to problem-solving. Additionally, because mediation is confidential, parties can feel free to discuss sensitive information without fear that it will be used against them later in court.
There are many benefits to using mediation to resolve commercial disputes. First and foremost, it is typically much faster and less expensive than litigation. Because the parties are working together to reach an agreement, there is no need for extensive discovery or motions practice. This can save months (or even years) of the litigation process. In addition, because mediation is confidential, it allows parties to avoid potential damage to their reputations that could come from airing their dirty laundry in court. Finally, by agreeing to mediate their dispute, the parties can maintain control over the outcome instead of leaving it in the hands of a judge or jury.
If you’re interested in trying mediation to resolve a commercial dispute, there are a few things you should know about how the process works. First, both parties must agree to mediate in good faith—meaning they must be willing to actually try to reach an agreement. Second, the mediator does not have the authority to make decisions or impose settlements on the parties. Instead, the mediator’s role is limited to facilitating discussion and helping the parties identify areas of agreement and disagreement. Third, because mediation is confidential, anything said during mediation cannot be used in subsequent litigation if an agreement is not reached. This allows the parties to feel free to discuss all potential options for resolution without fear that their words will be used against them later on.
Mediation is a valuable tool for resolving commercial disputes quickly and efficiently. If you find yourself involved in such a dispute, consider giving mediation a try—you may be surprised at how well it works.