A mediation is a confidential negotiation facilitated by an independent and impartial third party (the mediator). Mediation is steadily growing in popularity as a dispute resolution process for the following reasons:
Preparation for a mediation is far less intensive than that for a court proceeding. Discovery (exchange of relevant documents between the parties) and preparation of evidence typically does not occur for a mediation. This means lawyers can spend less hours preparing for a mediation than for a court proceeding. Further, a mediation undertaken online saves on travel, venue and accommodation costs (that can escalate if the dispute is not resolved in the time contemplated).
A case that is resolved through the New Zealand High Court typically takes 252 days.¹ The uncertainty over that period (that could have commercial impacts), combined with the stress of a looming proceeding can result in significant costs that are often hard to quantify. The advantage of a mediation is that the parties can decide the speed at which their dispute gets resolved. CODR partners with many AMINZ certified and nationally recognised experts that are available to mediate disputes at short notice.
Unfortunately disputes can arise between parties that would like to preserve an ongoing relationship. For example between joint owners of property, commercial partners or parties part-way through a project. The court process is adversarial in nature and generally leads to a divided outcome as opposed to a solution all parties agree with. Mediation provides a process where a solution that all parties accept can be reached.
The starting point is that all proceedings in a court are open to the public. This is why sensitive disputes are often mediated (or arbitrated). No one but the parties and the mediator are privy to the fact that the dispute even exists.
While an agreement reached in mediation can be enforced, if the parties fail to reach agreement, they are not forced to continue with the process. This is opposed to a court process where once the case is started, parties either need to settle (find an acceptable agreement), or risk being bound by the Judge’s decision.
¹ “Nationally in the High Court in 2010 the cases resolved prior to being allocated a hearing date were disposed of in an aver-age of 252 days (1706 or 84% of cases), with the remaining cases that proceeded to the point in the legal process of being allocated hearing dates taking an average of 608 days to resolve (318 or 16% of cases).” Righarts, Saskia; Henaghan, Mark — “Delays in the New Zealand Civil Justice System? Opinion v fact” (2011) 12 Otago LR 455
Even a seemingly straight-forward dispute can often have many dimensions that reveal themselves once the resolution procedure begins. If you are interested in finding out more, please make an enquiry, or call 0800 CODR 00.