MediationFrequently Asked Questions
Mediation is probably the best known and most commonly used form of alternative dispute resolution. A mediation usually takes half a day or a full day and involves the parties to a dispute attending a session with an independent third party called a mediator. The mediator will investigate what each party wants to end the dispute and will explore whether it is possible for the parties to reach an agreement. Mediation is a confidential process and neither party can use any information it discovers at the mediation in any subsequent court proceedings.
If you are involved in any kind of dispute you want to find the quickest, cheapest and most pain free way to sort it out. I have been specialising in dispute resolution for 14 years and in my experience resorting to litigation (the court) should always be a last resort.
- Litigation is a risky business. It is risky because Judges have to make difficult decisions in difficult circumstances. You will probably be involved in your dispute for weeks before you contact a solicitor, and it will take months before your case reaches a final hearing in court. By that time there will inevitably be a large quantity of documents, correspondence and at least 2 witnesses. At the final hearing the judge will have just one day (a court day is usually just six hours), to listen to all the evidence, read all the papers and absorb all the facts before deciding which party is right and which is wrong. For these reasons the only certainty is that one party is going to win and one party is going to lose.
- Litigation is expensive. The average fast track claim will almost certainly cost each party at least £20,000 in legal fees, often that is the cost before VAT and third party costs are added on top. Imagine that on top of the anger that you currently have you have spent at least six months and £20,000 plus in legal costs and a Judge disagrees with you. If that happens, you could be ordered to pay the other party’s legal costs plus any damages they were seeking as well as suffer the disappointment and anger at losing.
- Litigation does not offer a quick solution. A case can easily last at least 12 months before it reaches a final hearing, and will often take more than 18 months to conclude.
- Litigation is stressful. You cannot rely on anything at a final hearing that has not previously been disclosed to the other party so that they can respond. You will have to prepare a detailed witness statement. If your case does reach a final hearing you will give evidence as a witness and you will be cross examined by the other party’s barrister.
- Judges love parties who try mediation. If you have offered mediation as a means of trying to resolve the dispute, then you are improving your prospects of recovering costs from the other party. If the person that you are in a dispute with refuses an offer of mediation then they are risking costs being awarded to you.
At a mediation the parties will usually sit in separate rooms either with or without their legal representatives (depending on what has been agreed beforehand). An independent trained third party called a mediator will spend time with each party to discuss the problem at hand and to see if there is any way that the dispute can be settled. The mediator will often move between rooms and speak to the parties separately but may if everyone agrees, suggest that a joint session takes place.
If the mediation is successful and the parties reach an agreement the terms of the agreement will usually be recorded in a “settlement agreement” that parties sign to confirm what they have agreed.
In my experience, at least 80% of mediations result in a settlement being agreed either on the day of mediation or in the following weeks.
However, it will only be successful if both parties come to participate in the mediation with the intention of resolving the dispute.
You do have to be prepared to compromise, and a compromise usually means giving something. However, what you give need not necessarily be financial, with mediation it is for the parties to reach whatever agreement they can both live with and the solution can be far more creative than anything that a judge could order.
The cost of mediation will vary depending on several factors, such as how much paperwork there is, whether court proceedings have already been issued, and the value of the claim. If you are a new client we will charge a £500 fixed fee to assess your claim and whether mediation is suitable and if it is suitable whether it is suitable immediately.
The fee will include:
- An initial meeting with you to discuss your concerns;
- Making initial enquiries if necessary with other parties, to assess whether mediation will be viable, and that the other parties will agree to participate in it;
- A detailed letter of advice which will set out our advice, the likely overall costs of the claim, how likely it is that your claim will succeed and the estimated timescales.
At Start Point Law we charge a fixed fee of between £2,000 and £4,000 to organise and attend a mediation with you. This includes preparing your matter for the mediation, helping you find suitably experienced mediators and agreeing the appointment of the mediator with the other party, arranging a location for the mediation, drafting the documents to instruct the mediator and helping you prepare for the mediation by considering what possible settlements could be offered. The fee also includes attending the mediation with you and drafting the settlement agreement if the mediation is successful.
In addition to our fee there will be a mediator’s fee and room hire to pay. The usual arrangement is that each party pays an equal share.