Where there is a conflict between two parties the first impulse may be to immediately turn to the courts in order to find a resolution. However, this process can be costly in terms of legal fees and can be tremendously time-consuming. There is an alternative form of conflict resolution – mediation.
The mediation process calls into a service an impartial third party to assist in the two parties in conflict reaching a mutually agreeable settlement.
There is a myriad of situations where mediation proceedings might take place. These can include divorce, labor disputes, commercial issues, employment issues and many others. The key is that mediation should not require complex evidentiary approaches or be governed by strict procedural issues such as would be the case in a court of law.
Participation in a mediation process is voluntary – however, there may be instances where mediation is part of a contractual obligation. This is common in labor issues were going to court would not be in the best interests of either party, at least as a first step.
The person who is the mediator is chosen for a variety of attributes and skills. Primarily the ability to keep a clear, calm view of the proceedings without being biased towards either side. They are often skilled negotiators who are able to steer the proceedings towards an equitable outcome. In many instances, the mediator is an attorney. this can be useful when it comes time to draw up the documentation covering the mediated settlement between the parties. It is however also true that in some instances the two parties will choose a mediator that is not an attorney due to the costs involved.
It cannot be emphasized enough that the time savings of mediation over court proceedings is hugely attractive. once the two parties sign an agreement to mediate the process can literally be over within weeks. This is as opposed to court proceedings where simply getting an initial court date and preparing arguments can take months. Add to that the time actually spent in court and the attraction of mediation becomes readily apparent.
The attraction of mediation is also the fact that the relationship between the two parties can usually be salvaged. The animosity that almost inevitably follows a court case will in most instances make this impossible. this is especially important where there is a business or personal relationship between the two parties – including divorce where children are involved.