Most people are simply not aware of the various benefits mediation can provide, over and above contested court or tribunal proceedings.
We have put together the following list to help clarify and explain these benefits.
Mediation can reduce risk
One of the unavoidable risks with contested proceedings is that you simply do not know which way a judge will decide a case. While you may be confident that a judge will agree with your version of events and interpretation of the law, there are no guarantees. It is not unusual for a judge to rely on the same facts and law to reach an alternative conclusion. Furthermore, once the judge makes their decision, there is little the aggrieved party can do to have it changed, other than to launch an appeal (which is not always available), at additional risk, time and money.
This state of affairs is starkly different when it comes to mediation. Rather than putting the outcome of a decision in the hands of a judge, each party to a mediation retains control over the dispute and the outcome. If you do not like a resolution that is proposed at mediation, you do not have to agree to it. It’s that simple.
Mediation can save you time
Contested proceedings can take anywhere from months (at minimum) to years, depending on the complexity of the issues in dispute and the workload of the Court itself. During the conduct of contested proceedings, surprise applications and unforeseen Court delays can occur, which can easily cause a dispute to become protracted. Having a protracted dispute can cause significant stress, particularly where a quick resolution to a dispute is needed for practical reason.
Mediation, on the other hand, does not require the involvement of a Court and is therefore not subject to Court delays. As long as the parties in dispute are willing and have the time available, mediation can be arranged on relatively short notice, greatly increasing the likelihood of achieving a quick resolution.
Mediation can save you money
It is no secret that contested court proceedings can be very expensive. Depending on the dispute, costs can range from tens of thousands of dollars to even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Mediation, however, is often far more cost effective. Out of pocket expenses can be limited to a mediator’s professional fees (which are commonly split evenly between the parties) and the cost of room hire (if required). Given that many disputes often involve a disagreement over money, achieving a resolution which is cost effective is certainly preferable.
Mediation can provide flexibility
One of the draw backs of contested proceedings is that they are conducted in public and can appear on the public record. This can be of concern when there are issues that may be confidential or simply downright embarrassing.
Mediation, on the other hand, is largely conducted “off the record”. This means that what you say at mediation cannot be legally revealed outside of mediation itself or used against you at a later date in Court. Not only does this offer a significant degree of privacy, but it also provides an open and flexible forum in which parties can more freely explore alternatives or discuss more candidly the issues in dispute.
Mediation can save relationships
A drawback of contested proceedings is that they often mean the end of relationships, be they commercial, work related, or something else. When it comes down to it, this should come as no surprise, given that a court or tribunal proceeding is usually a last resort option, time consuming, stressful and expensive.
A benefit of mediation is that it can often save relationships by having issues in dispute dealt with quickly and before they escalate. This is particularly beneficial when it comes to commercial disputes, allowing parties to move on and sometimes even continuing their commercial endeavours for their mutual benefit.
If you would like DisputeOver to mediate your dispute, please contact Simon Matters via email or his direct line on (03) 8561 3324.