ediation offers many distinct advantages over proceeding directly to litigation. Mediation is an entirely confidential and voluntary process. If matters are commercially sensitive, whether commercially or personally- mediation offers a forum to discuss and resolve such issues without risk of undesirable precedent being established. Further mediation is a collaborative, rather than adversarial, exercise- which allows the parties to the mediation to resolve their disputes while limiting risk to long-term relationships.
Mediation also offers valuable flexibility over the more strictly rigid framework of the Court procedure. The mediation process is “party led” and can be tailored to the specific needs of the dispute and the parties to it. As mediations are voluntary, the parties retain ultimate control over the process and are free to withdraw whenever they choose.
The role of the mediator is also entirely different from that of a Judge, and that offers the parties distinct advantages over Court proceedings. In particular, unlike a Judge at trial, it is an essential skill of the experienced mediator to act as a neutral third party, collaborating with the parties with the view to resolving their issues. By contrast, a tribunal imposes a decision on the parties. As a consequence of its more collaborative focus, mediation can often result in outcomes which might not otherwise be possible in the more binary world of litigation- where the available remedies are often inappropriate to the range of issues (commercial or private) which the parties may be facing.
Mediation also offers practical advantages over litigation- most notably concerning cost and speed of resolution. Mediations can be arranged quickly and usually represent a significant cost saving overtaking a matter to a contested hearing. Moreover, as the Civil Procedure places ever greater emphasis on parties attempting Alternative Dispute Resolution (of which mediation is an element) before matters reach trial, should matters reach trial the Courts increasingly expect parties to have tried the resolve their dispute in advance of trial.
In such circumstances, particularly where the process is entirely confidential and therefore a party does not weaken its position should trial be necessary by taking part in mediation and where mediation offers the potential for significant savings in terms of costs and time, the parties have nothing to lose and potentially much to gain by attempting to mediate their dispute.