Tag Archives: Commercial

Paying For Mediation

Many people have pre-conceived ideas about how mediation is to be paid for. Some believe that it is an expensive service, others that it is free, and yet more are not aware that legal aid is still available for mediation. Mediation is a cost-effective method of discussing issues following on from your separation for most people, whether paying privately or for those who have a low income and can satisfy Legal Aid’s demands for documentary evidence. In addition, if one of you is entitled to legal aid, there are other benefits in that the assessment becomes free, as does the first mediation appointment. This is a real help to those who are concerned about paying costs which would better be put towards the separated family. For those who pay privately, we have concessionary rates for those who just miss legal aid on a low income and with limited savings.

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There is always an assessment meeting beforehand for a fixed cost (or free if legal aid) and you will hear full details of costs of mediation during that meeting so that you will be aware of what your outlay will be for the mediation process. There will be, no doubt, many worries that you will both have during this situation and being fully aware of what this process will cost should set your minds at rest.

For more information contact us on 01908 410522

Today’s Challenge: Describe the Benefits of Mediation and What it Does in Two Sentences?

On 22nd May about 150 mediators, judges of various flavours, policy makers and politicians, assembled at The Met in Leeds for the annual Civil Mediation Council (CMC) conference. (We will get to the challenge in a minute). The glitterati of the mediation profession were there, along with those members of the judiciary sympathetic to mediation as a means to resolve disputes. The message from On High was clear, the courts need more cases to settle and avoid trial, as the present demand for adjudication cannot be met, there are not enough courts or judges and there’s certainly not enough money.

Mediation is the most probable alternative to court. It saves time, money and stress, so why don’t people try to mediate before issuing court proceedings? There were many theories, but the most persuasive was that many people want to go to court because they believe the judge will agree with them, they will be vindicated, the ‘other side’ will lose, suffer and be humiliated. They will get what they want. Of course, they probably won’t get what they want, both sides feel the same and can’t both be right.  Also, the costs frequently exceed the value of the dispute by a considerable margin, so it ends up as a poor investment.  Though it’s questionable if applying to court can ever be regarded as an investment; an expensive gamble might be a more accurate description.

Most people wish they’d never started court proceedings long before they end, when everyone is just desperate for it to be over. By then if not before, mediation is usually the best way out and of course, we all know that very few cases go to full trial, so the revenge/ vindication sought is a satisfaction rarely achieved.

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We heard from Lord Faulks the government is committed to mediation and wishes to extend its use in the resolution of disputes.  Lord Justice Briggs said the same thing. Then we established that the Jackson reforms last year have not, in fact, increased the take up of mediation as much as expected, despite government policy and reform and the unarguable fact that many cases at court are simply in the wrong forum for sorting them out. People need help with resolution not help with fighting, however angry they feel – it is counter-intuitive. There were workshops examining online mediation, compulsory mediation, mediation in schools, mediation in the political process and ACAS. The constellation of experts assembled was inspiring.

Joshua Rosenberg (BBC legal commentator and expert) helpfully described what mediators should do to increase public awareness of mediation. He had done the training, saw what it could achieve and was all for it – but people don’t know what it can do for them or how it works. He thinks we need a two sentence description of the benefits of mediation and what it can do. Then people may better understand and try mediation, instead of litigating first and regretting it later. So – the challenge is to find two sentences describing mediation in such a way that ordinary people will know what it means. There follow some examples:-

  • Mediation reaches the parts of the dispute that court doesn’t and gives people more choices about their way forward that the Law. Mediation is fast, affordable and starts where you are to sort out disputes in ways acceptable to both of you, so you can move on
  • If you are in dispute resist the temptation to invest your time and money arguing why you are right and fighting, as in the end most people do a deal and the sooner the better.  By mediating first you can save the most time, money and stress. So start by seeing what you can agree in mediation rather than start with an expensive legal ritual that drives you poles apart.
  • When in dispute, think carefully about what you want to achieve. Grind your opponent into the ground? Hurt them like they hurt you? Or sort it out and move on with your life? Mediation lets you end it swiftly and cost effectively. The price of justice is an uncertain outcome at vast expense and with huge delays, the benefits of mediation are fast, affordable certainty and it’s over.  No brainer.

The problem is, these definitions come from a mediator – we thought it would be better if a non mediator writes  the 2 sentences. So, here’s the challenge – £100 voucher for the shop of your choice to the person who comes up with the best two sentence description of mediation. Closing date – 31st August 2014.

The Basket of Truth

The basket is asymmetrical and looks different from every angle.
Each observer is convinced by the truth of their view.
Imagine the basket is the physical embodiment of the truth.

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We believe our recollection of the truth is right, because we saw and experienced it and the challenging, contrary memory of others feels like an outrage. So people have genuine conflicting beliefs about the past, about whose fault it was, who said and did what.

The process of the Law collects evidence about these truths, to decide which is right and the apparent or real truth wins, who knows if it is always right? The process of Mediation shows people they each can have their beliefs – they will anyway. However, they need to resolve the conflict about their differing understandings of events in order to shape an outcome together that they can both live with.

We should always start with the end in mind. Where there is disagreement, usually agreement eventually follows, in order to bring matters to an end. We need to end with a settlement that lets people move on with their lives.

So we should not automatically first embark on a process (the Law) that makes out each most extreme position first, as that positional bargaining drives people further apart and makes them enemies in a fight, instead of people with a shared interest in an early and affordable resolution.

If you feel angry or upset that someone does not understand events or even the world as you perceive it, persuading them may not work. You may have to agree to differ and negotiate a way forward together. A mediator will help you do that. That, in a nutshell is the spirit of mediation.

Mediation and the Law – a big change is happening

When businesses and families have serious rows everything can seem insoluble and legal action may follow.  However, emotions and old grudges may cause a dispute that has nothing to do with the apparent “legal problem” everyone thinks they are arguing about. For example, I mediated a dispute between a spouse and the siblings of an elderly patient with dementia, about who should spend what time with the patient and control his care and welfare decisions. The spouse was distraught and felt threatened at the demands of the sibling group, who had little trust in her.  This was resolved in one day after nearly a year’s legal wrangling, court proceedings and after legal costs of over £30,000 had been spent.  This was not about legal niceties – there was no dispute about money or the law.  It was about grief, loss and the human tendency to displace impossible grief into something controllable, like a big row over something.

The only option for lawyers is to sift the evidence and translate it into a legal narrative – that is their role.  The difficult relationship between people, their struggle with each other, their relationships – that is often the real problem.  A trial or solicitors’ letters can be like amputating a leg, because someone has an infection. It’s as much use.

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So imagine a huge row – about a will, a sick relative, a business – or a commercial dispute between people who work together, or about a contract – wherever there are people – there will be disagreements.  It is human nature.  Each participant comes at it with their own interpretation of the “truth” with their own beliefs, which tend to be re-enforced through debate, as people don’t want to back down. The conventional, legal ritual inflames the conflict drivers of the dispute, so it escalates.  The Law concerns itself with the evidence and legal issues – but those are often not what matters to people. Mediation reaches the conflict drivers, the beliefs and misunderstandings that fuel disputes. Mediation is far more likely to resolve the argument, as it deals with a far wider range of issues than the law can.

Given the success of mediation at sorting out disputes, it is a wonder it isn’t a first choice for anyone with a possible court application, but it hasn’t been so far. This is because the allure of court is that the judge will agree with you and the other person will be found to be “wrong” or “at fault” People want to be found to be “right”, it is much more appealing than a settlement. The problem is, usually both parties think they are right and the law of averages says half must be wrong!

The court costs are huge, they frequently dwarf the financial value of the issue being mediated – then everyone loses out.  The court timescale is long, but by the time the proceedings are under way, it can feel there’s no way out. However, since April the courts are increasingly directing people to mediation. The tide is turning in favour of fast and affordable, non-adjudicated resolution in mediation for all disputes, whether commercial or family. Our experienced specialist mediation team are proud to be mediation experts.

Business Disputes

Business Disputes

Disputes can paralyse a department or even the whole company, diverting decision-makers from the key tasks of doing deals, creating wealth. The cost in money and reputation can be incalculable.  A Focus Mediator can help restore equilibrium swiftly, confidentially and with the minimum of expense and disruption.  The key aim is to end the haemorrhaging of time and money as quickly and productively as possible.

Focus Gets Results

Mediation usually only takes a single day, and can be set up at short notice.  Where relationships have broken down and negotiations failed, a neutral mediator operating in a private, “without prejudice” environment aims to broker a deal that all parties agree is better for them than the fight.  Focus mediators achieve that in over 90% of cases, with parties signing binding settlement terms there and then.  The process even brings many of the rest close enough that they settle soon after.

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Business Disputes and Litigation

Disputes often grow in complexity as the lawyers jockey for tactical advantage, and extra parties (such as insurers) may become involved.  Before you know it the legal costs can be one of the biggest issues!  Mediators start where you are. Only a mediator can discuss each party’s hopes, fears and objectives with them in confidence.  No judge, arbitrator, adjudicator or party representative can ever do that.  It’s one of the main reasons mediation gets results. And mediated solutions can be more creative and user friendly than awards imposed by the courts, arbitrators or tribunals.

Problems, Problems

Traditional methods of resolving disputes often drive parties further apart long before any resolution is possible.  If you’ve been through the stage of snarling at each other, and that didn’t bring the opposition to heel, where should you go next?  Since April 2013 litigation procedures have been reformed to encourage and incentivise parties to use ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) including mediation. Failure to do so can have adverse costs consequences, even for parties who go on to win their case.  Proposing mediation, far from being a sign of weakness, can put your opponent on the back foot.

How does a business mediation work?

We will help you choose the right mediator from our panel and a day is set aside for the mediation. A fixed fee is paid up front, usually by the parties equally. Pre-session process is kept to a minimum – usually just a short position statement from each party, to ensure the mediator understands the background.  The mediation day usually starts with an opportunity to explain your case in a group session, all together. Most of the day is spent in separate rooms with the mediator shuttling between you. You say what you want relayed, and what is to be held confidentially by the mediator. This process helps the mediator see areas where agreement may become possible.  The objective is a binding settlement, signed on the day.

Usually your mediation can be held within two weeks of your contacting us

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