Mediation legal advice
A leading Yorkshire law firm is calling on businesses to be mindful of mediation, as having their day in court can now be very expensive financially and in other ways.
Irwin Mitchell, which has offices in Leeds and Sheffield, has timed its warning to coincide with National Mediation Awareness Week (October 24 to 31).
Danny Revitt is a property and commercial litigation specialist with the firm, based at its offices in Millsands, Sheffield, and a qualified mediator.
He explained: "There's now an unmistakable trend for courts to encourage and even force disputing businesses to try to settle differences - such as those over the supply of goods and services - through mediation, rather than by trial.
"Courts have for some time often given instructions that this should be attempted well before a hearing. In other cases, judges are now prepared to halt court proceedings and make direct orders that mediation must take place. They're also denying businesses winning court cases legal costs if they have unreasonably refused to mediate earlier.
"In addition to the monetary impact, businesses in disputes should consider the wasted time, damage to relationships and general disruption which failing to resolve problems at the first opportunity can cause."
Mr Revitt said judges had long recognised that in commercial disputes courts were not cost-effective forums for dealing with every detail and parties therefore often failed to air all their grievances at hearings.
One reason judges now saw mediation as a much better way of settling these wide-ranging disagreements was the knowledge that a variety of matters could be mediated at once.
Mediation was also seen as a more appropriate means of resolution where there was no obvious legal remedy, such as cases where the wronged party merely wanted an apology.
Mr Revitt said: "Most cases that go to court are settled before trial anyway. Mediation can offer a more structured method of settlement than informal negotiation.
"It involves a suitably qualified third party facilitating negotiations between disputing organisations in an effort to find a solution. It can take place at a neutral venue, is confidential and nothing said during it can be used as court evidence.
"Any settlement only becomes binding once it has been put into a document the parties have signed and if it is not successful, they can litigate or continue with court proceedings already begun."
Mr Revitt said mediation offered a wide variety of settlement options and could be adapted to suit clients' needs. It also gave parties control over the outcome, and therefore had much to commend it as a means of settling disputes.
Yorkshire companies can receive more information about mediation by contacting Irwin Mitchell's commercial litigation team on 0370 1500 100.
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