What Types Of Disputes Can Be Mediated In The UK?

Mediation is a method of avoiding going to litigation to resolve a dispute. An impartial third-party who understands the law pertaining to your type of dispute is assigned to mediate. Depending on the complexity of the dispute this may occur over one long session or several small sessions. The benefits of mediation are many, including that mediation is private, faster and less expensive. There are a few different types of mediation, so it is important to understand which type you are committing to.

What Can Be Mediated?

Absolutely any dispute that is likely to go to court or that is escalating can be meditated in an attempt to avoid court. It is not uncommon for divorcing couples to turn to mediation instead to split assets and agree upon custody. However, mediation is used for just about anything:

  • Resolving family matters
  • Disputing commercial contracts
  • Employment
  • Intellectual property infringement
  • Tax liability
  • Domestic and commercial property litigation
  • Town planning and development
  • Professional negligence
  • Probate and valuation
  • Partnerships and shareholders
  • Multi-party litigation /arbitration
  • And more

Will Your Lawyer Be Present During Mediation?

If all involved parties agree, lawyer assisted mediation is available for just about anything but there will still be a third-party mediator in place. It is most common when proceedings are nearing or already underway, or the dispute is complex. The lawyer will advocate on your behalf, ensure you understand consequences and complexities, and negotiate for your best interests. Unlike traditional mediation, lawyer assisted mediation is typically completed in one long session. If the parties cannot come to an agreement, then the case will proceed to court.

Whether with a mediator or a lawyer, there will be time to break and consider your options, determine your preferences, and maybe even meet with the mediator individually—by yourself or with your lawyer.

What Are The Benefits Of Mediation?

Going to court is a lengthy and stressful process and the outcome is completely out of the involved parties’ control. By choosing mediation both or all parties can decide for themselves. Mediation is much faster, as quick as one long day—or a series of sessions. For sensitive issues involve parties may prefer the confidentiality of mediation; whereas cases that go to court are a matter of public record. Mediation eliminates the potential for a case being drug out for months or years, or can be used to wrap up a dispute that has been going on for too long. The faster the mediation the less expensive. Mediation won’t work in every situation and some parties still decide to take their case to court. However, mediation works in about 90% of commercial disputes.

What Is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Small consumer claims that are under £5,000 are ideal for alternative dispute resolution (ADL). Litigation will cost both parties far more than what is at stake, so this is also a cost-effective solution. There are a few different types of ADL to choose from:

Mediation—similar to standard mediation, but in some cases the mediator will work individually with both parties to reach an agreement. This back and forth can take a bit more time.

Arbitration—instead of a mediator an arbitrator is assigned whose decision is legally binding by the court. Unlike mediation there is no room to negotiate and both parties agree to accept the arbitrator’s decision.

Conciliation—is the first step of arbitration. The conciliator is assigned by the trade association and will advise both parties on the most effective solution. Their advice is not the final decision, but it gives both parties a general idea of the direction things are likely to go. If one or both parties is not comfortable with the advice they may still choose to go to court.

Ombudsman—the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is a free service for most companies. After filling out a supplier complaint assessment and providing supportive evidence the Ombudsman will suggest a ruling. In most cases the supplier will agree to the ruling. While not legally binding, if the case does go to court the court will take not of the Ombudsman’s suggested ruling.

If you have an escalating dispute and would like to avoid litigation reach out to the team at Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors to discuss lawyer assisted mediation.