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Why Mediate Business Disputes?

By Thomas M. Blumenthal

Mediation is a tool with which a facilitator skilled at breaking through barriers of communication assists disputants in discussing the dispute and attempting to arrive at a resolution without outside interference or outside decision-making. This is not a comprehensive definition, but it is useful as a primer.

Even after decades of use as a dispute resolution tool, mediation is still largely misunderstood by the public at large and by commercial business. Recent studies have shown that not only is there a lack of information held by those in need of this crucial service, but that there is a difference of opinion between users and providers as to how mediation is best used.

These recent studies suggest that the main motivation for users of mediation is a reduction in cost and a reduction in the risk of having a third party (judge, jury or arbitrator) decide one’s fate. Court battles are often prohibitively expensive, and attorneys want arbitration to look (and cost) more and more like court. Clients are often shut out of the process concerning the most effective approach to resolution, or only brought in late in the discussion. Clients can and should demand that they be include early and throughout the discussion.

Interestingly, actually addressing the issues of the dispute is not as high on the list of priorities for users/clients as achieving some resolution – any resolution.

Traditionally in court-based mediations, the mediations don’t occur until late in the process, well after the parties have hardened their relative positions, and long after they have ceased paying attention to their own best interests. Frequent users seem to believe that mediation is more effective the earlier it is used, and urge engaging in mediation at the earliest signs of a dispute. When this preference occurs, the same users also feel that mediation should come before the arbitration or litigation process begins. The traditional court-based models only consider mediation after the process is well advanced.

If you decide to use the mediation process in your dispute, Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal has trained and experienced mediators who can provide this crucial dispute resolution service for you. Please contact us to discuss how the process might work for you and your potential adversary.



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