Mediation is often a more appropriate means of resolving disputes than litigation in many cases and is a much better way of reaching a satisfactory outcome for all involved for a variety of reasons. A significant issue with litigation is that both sides of the argument can become unwilling to budge on their ideas and opinions, costs can soar and parties become dominated by the process and pay a high emotional cost. One huge benefit of mediation is that both sides can feel they are taking steps in resolving the situation, in a serious and timely manner.
With the help of an independent and unbiased mediator the parties can move through a process of dispute resolution where an opportunity is given for them to come to a joint decision about the outcome of a settlement. Their respective needs, options and possibilities are discussed and those involved can identify and agree on a settlement they are willing to submit to. If lawyers are present, there is the opportunity for the parties to hear the strengths of the the legal arguments on each side and the reality that the lawyers are unable to agree on the outcome.. Mediation also offers an arena of confidentiality which court proceedings cannot. Anything said during the discussions cannot later be used as evidence in litigation, and can be understood as being akin to ‘without prejudice’ negotiations.
Another distinct benefit of mediation is that it often leads to outcomes which are more creative and flexible than anything the court offers. The interaction between the parties, with the mediator’s support, can improve strained relationships, reduce stress for the client, and give both sides a sense of empowerment resulting from their engagement in the process and reaching a satisfactory outcome with the other side.
Legal Practitioner’s can also benefit from the process of Mediation in improved client/solicitor relations because an appropriate environment has been provided to discuss matters, take advice and yet make their own decisions for themselves. It also enhances the image of the legal profession as a whole when mediation as a service is offered as an alternate means of resolving a dispute as it assists the client in feeling more empowered in the process, costs are kept down and settlements are negotiated more quickly. Often mediation can also lead to a better understanding of the dispute for all parties involved, including the lawyer. And although a lawyer may need to take on a more supportive role, they are still given the opportunity to be problem solvers and advisors allowing their client to have more control in the process.
Understanding the benefits of mediation as a form of dispute resolution for a client can assist legal practitioners in recommending it to clients as a cost effective, fast and robust dispute resolution process and to benefit to their reputation as well.