The overnight transition to online mediation has highlighted many advantages of dealing with disputes virtually. The success of hearing cases via Zoom meetings raises the question of what the future will look like. Will virtual mediation become the norm, or will we transition back to face-to-face dealings?
The benefits of online mediation
Those involved in mediation have reported a number of advantages to dealing with a dispute virtually. Attending what could be a stressful and contentious meeting from the comfort of one’s own home has helped participants feel safe and secure. Discussions have been fruitful more quickly, with resolution often being reached in record times.
One of the reasons for this may be the humanising of someone perceived as an opponent. As well as dealing with a dispute from home, you are also being invited into the home of others, seeing their home office or makeshift work area, with evidence of their personal lives around them.
The other sizeable benefit is the elimination of any travel time. Attending meetings involves a considerable amount of time in getting to a venue, as well as a substantial period of lost time waiting for a meeting to start or spent in between meetings, for example, while a mediator speaks privately with another party.
If the whole event happens virtually, those lost hours can be recovered and spent on profitable work. As well as saving time, travel expenses will be non-existent and environmental impact substantially reduced.
The best of both worlds
The benefits are too good to be lost completely once the world returns to normal, but is there room for in-person dispute resolution as well?
As experienced mediators, we believe that all options should be available. Just as a restaurant that offers only one dish will not thrive, mediators also need to have a variety on the menu.
Originally, litigation was the only choice. Since then, arbitration has become very popular for the resolution of international commercial disputes and, somewhat more recently, mediation has joined the scene. Then hybrids such as early resolution and the combinations of med-arb and arb-med have been used to offer tailored solutions.
Still, newer options are being created, such as SCRIBE, Small Claims Resolved Informally by Experts, to target specific types of commercial disagreement.
The future of dispute resolution will surely involve a combination of options. It will be part of the skilled mediator’s job to assess a situation at the start and suggest the right path to resolution. Understanding the benefits of online and in-person meetings and pairing the best option to each case will be the first vital step to achieving resolution.
Where a case is particularly emotive and trust has entirely broken down, face-to-face meetings may be best.
Where a matter is complex and involves several parties, numerous break-out meetings and substantial documentation, it may be better handled remotely so that each party has access to their own technology and data banks from their secure location and the option to take their breaks within their own business environment.
For some cases, there may be the option to combine the two, holding some meetings in person, but also speaking remotely on occasion.
Mediators are taking note of the way virtual meetings are going during the pandemic disruption with a view to keeping the advantages and implementing the best of face-to-face meetings alongside.
At Lux Mediation, we offer a range of different Dispute Resolution Services, designed to deal with all types and stages of disputes. We are experienced in and understand the subtleties of online mediation and when it may be the right solution. Our mediators have extensive credentials and experience in areas including maritime, international, EU and general commercial and civil law.
If you would like to explore further whether online dispute resolution can help you to resolve a dispute or you have any questions about the process, please call Lux-Mediation on +44 (0)7876 232305 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.