Mediation in a Pandemic

Unfortunately, disputes will still arise and continue in the midst of a pandemic.

Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution which can be a highly effective tool to bring a dispute to a conclusion (saving management time and legal costs).

Mediation can be used both before legal proceedings are commenced and at any stage of legal proceedings.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential method of Alternative Dispute Resolution.  A Mediation is also “without prejudice” which means that the discussions that take place cannot be referred to as part of any court proceedings.

A Mediator is jointly selected and appointed by the parties.  A date will be agreed for the Mediation to take place.  Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mediation was usually a face to face meeting at which the Mediator, the parties and their legal representatives would attend.  Mediators and legal representatives have quickly adapted and Mediations are currently taking place by way of video conferencing and telephone.  The preferred method for video conferencing appears to currently be zoom.

The Mediator is not there to act as a judge.  The Mediator is skilled and experienced at working with the parties to help them to find and agree a sensible resolution.

The advantage of Mediation is that the resolution can be flexible and may include terms that a court would not be at liberty to order (but the parties are at liberty to agree).

Can a party refuse the other party’s invitation to Mediation?

An invitation to mediate needs to be considered carefully.  If a party is deemed to have unreasonably refused an invitation to mediate, there can be costs sanctions for that party later down the line. Whether a refusal is “unreasonable” will be judged on the facts and circumstances of the individual case that existed at the time of the invitation.  It is important to take advice before refusing or ignoring an invitation to mediate made by the other party.

For further information, please contact Anna Barnes, Partner, on 0161 475 7655 or email [email protected].