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Resolving Commercial Disputes


Conflicts and disputes are part of every day business life.  The Chinese character for conflict means both "danger" and "opportunity".  How you deal with them is the important issue. The opportunity is to resolve the dispute in a positive way.  Many typical disputes faced by businesses are good candidates for resolution by Alternative Dispute Resolution and especially mediation.  Advantages of mediation over traditional litigation and why it should be the first choice for resolving business disputes include:

Control the outcome:
You make the decision.  The settlement, if any, will be decided by the parties, not imposed by a judge or arbitrator.  This greatly reduces the fear that is likely to be present when the dispute is large enough to threaten the solvency of the business or its owners.  It also for commercially reasonable settlements outside of what might be imposed by a judge or an arbitrator.

Control the process:
The parties will select the mediator and decide which issues will be addressed, when sessions will be scheduled and how fees will be apportioned.  In short, you design the process and it can be well defined and predictable.

Save costs:
In mediation, your business lawyers acts in a consultative or coaching role, with you or your executives, normally participating directly in the mediation.  In contrast, business disputes in court can result in lawyers assuming the important decision-making role.

Deal with the real issues:
Parties can discuss the true problems and issues in dispute, including personalities, rather than arguing about each side's best legal points.  The result often is that a better, more honest solution is reached, which leaves participants feeling better, not worse.

Discuss technical issues:
Issues which may be too complex or technical for a judge to grasp in the rushed atmosphere of a courtroom can be handled in mediation.

Speed:
Mediation can be scheduled and likely concluded as quickly as the parties need.

Confidentiality:
Control unwanted publicity.  Mediation avoids public exposure of business mistakes, internal problems and trade secrets.  This is a significant benefit.  Because of many sensitive issues, a local or national company has an important interest in preserving its reputation and goodwill.  Sometimes the negative costs of going public with a dispute can be huge.

Preserve relationships:
Mediation can allow the relationship between disputing businesses to outlast the dispute.  The very process of arriving at a consensus decision can be the foundation for the parties to continue to do business together.  Going to court destroys relationships.  Many businesses are also realizing the value of using mediation as part of an overall strategy to build and keep good customer relationships.  The same is true as far as disputes with employees are concerned.

Plan for the future:
Parties can devise a plan for a future working relationship rather than limit discussion only to the dispute at hand.

Satisfaction with the process:
Mediation has an 80%+ settlement rate and participants are generally much more satisfied with the process especially compared to other forms of dispute resolution.

This is only a brief overview.  Mediation has significant benefits for the business community.  Creative ways of resolving conflict by owners and managers can add to the bottom line of any business whether large or small.

For further information, please contact us.