The author of Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson wisely said, "Compromise is the best and cheapest lawyer."
Here’s a (not) well-kept, little secret: lawsuits cost money. Lots of money.
A faster and cheaper way to resolve a dispute is mediation. Mediation is a type of dispute resolution. The term "dispute resolution" includes a number of distinct processes that can be used to resolve an issue.
Advantages of Mediation
There are some significant advantages in using mediation over the traditional legal process of litigation and even arbitration. Mediation is typically much less expensive than either and brings about a resolution much faster—sometimes a dispute can be settled in a day. On the other hand, litigation is time-consuming and costly; arbitration, less so, but can approach a version of a mini-trial in complex cases. Litigation can take years and cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars; arbitration can take months and costs thousands of dollars.
Mediation is usually non-binding. This lets the two parties remain in control, and if they can’t find common ground and resolve the issue—there’s no harm done. This non-binding nature of mediation means a settlement can’t be forced on the parties. For the matter to be concluded, the parties must agree to accept it voluntarily.
Plus, the mediator isn’t a decision-maker like a judge or an arbitrator. In litigation or arbitration, a decision is given as to how the dispute will be settled. Instead, in mediation, the mediator acts as a facilitator who helps the two sides reach their own mutual decision on a settlement of the issue.
Mediation is a great resource when business owners can’t agree on a course forward. Instead of entering into an adversarial situation, you can work together to resolve the issue. Mediation can also be helpful for disputes with customers and vendors.
We’ve written several articles that describe the benefits of mediation, such as "Why Mediation is Preferable to Litigation or Lingering Disputes" and "How Do You Get Other People To Agree To Mediate? Why Should They?"
If you’re in a tricky situation and you need help navigating through it to a resolution, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We have a trained and experienced mediator on our team, and we’re ready to help you. Preserving relationships preserves value in our businesses.
Francine E. Love is the Founder & Managing Attorney at LOVE LAW FIRM PLLC which dedicates its practice to serving entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses. The opinions expressed are those of the author. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.