Where a dispute involves parties looking to preserve their business relationship for the future, mediation can be a more effective and less accusatorial alternative to contested litigation.

Indeed, the adversarial process, with its inevitable allegations and counter-allegations of blame, concluded with an official determination as to culpability, can often result in irreparable damage to a working relationship.

Below we set out some of the key ways in which mediation can help to repair and maintain a relationship, ensuring that you remain on good working terms with the other side after the case has reached its conclusion.

1. Mediation is non-adversarial
In stark contrast to the issue of court proceedings, mediation is entirely non-adversarial. Although emotions can still run high during the course of the mediation process, the ultimate focus is on finding an acceptable way forward on mutually agreeable terms.

The mediator will facilitate communication between the parties, exploring different ways in which settlement can be reached, a process that, in itself, can be extremely powerful and restorative.

Indeed, even in the context of the most difficult and seemingly intractable disputes, with a suitable and specialised expert guiding the way, mediation can be an empowering process that really gets results.

2. Mediation is voluntary
Perhaps the very cornerstone of mediation is that the process is voluntary and consensual. Typically, the parties will enter into mediation because they understand its advantages, wish to work in a co-operative rather than an adversarial way, and are willing to compromise.

That said, even in circumstances where the court has ordered that the parties participate, or a contractual clause dictates that some form of alternative dispute resolution be considered, a party can never be forced to agree to settle within the mediation process.

On the contrary, mediation is founded on the premise that the parties must find a solution that is acceptable to all those involved. The parties retain complete control over the outcome, whereby the mediator will only seek to facilitate settlement rather than force a final decision on anyone.

3. Mediation is flexible
The inherent flexibility and capacity for tailored settlements on terms to suit all those involved means that mediation as a form of dispute resolution is much more conducive to fostering positive relationships going forward.

Indeed, it is this level of flexibility, with its alternatives to financial remedies in cases where claimants are often looking for much more than compensation, that means most mediation results in a settlement.

The parties have complete control over the outcome, enabling them to incorporate creative ideas in finding a way forward, perhaps bringing about much needed procedural change or even the addition of a simple apology.

4. Mediation is private
Unlike most court proceedings, the mediation process is private and confidential. In this way, the parties are able to protect their reputation, and in turn preserve existing or prospective relationships with other individuals or entities, within the wider business community.

Even where allegations are unfounded, the unwanted publication of court proceedings can have a devastating effect on one’s business reputation, not least in the context of a highly competitive and commercial environment such as the maritime and shipping industry.

From shipbuilders to shipowners, negative press within the maritime industry resulting, for example, from alleged shoddy workmanship or
unseaworthiness issues, can seriously affect a party’s commercial reputation and future business potential.

Not surprisingly, mediation is often now described as the future of dispute resolution within various industry sectors, including but not limited to the maritime and shipping industry. Indeed, the inherent benefits are somewhat difficult to dispute!

To explore whether mediation can help to resolve your dispute, please call me on 07876 232 305 or email me at jonathan@lux-mediation.com