Mediation has long been a highly useful dispute resolution option in the United Kingdom and beyond.
With a neutral third party (normally a specially trained barrister or solicitor) being appointed to help bring the parties towards a negotiated settlement, typically over the course of just one day, the success rate runs at around the 90% mark.
But with parties unable to meet face-to-face due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one might be forgiven for thinking mediation is not currently a viable option.
There is positive news though; remote mediation has emerged as a serious contender for resolving disputes outside of Court.
The technology exists to allow mediation to take place effectively online, with each participant in separate locations on one video call. The mediator has the ability to place each party into separate “rooms” so that they can discuss matters confidentially. Whilst not perhaps as seamless as the in-person environment, it does work.
The general structure of the process, and its governing principles, remain unchanged. It is still voluntary, without prejudice and confidential. Participants still retain control of the decision whether to settle and on what terms; no judgment is made by the mediator and no decision is imposed upon a party. However, with lower costs, and with travel time removed, remote mediation is a viable and cheaper option to resolve commercial disputes.
Why Does This Matter?
Fears that remote mediation will not enjoy the same success rates as “getting everyone around the table” appear to be unfounded. One of the key providers report that they have experienced little difference in success rates as compared to face-to-face mediations; in both situations around 90% of cases settle.
Businesses with disputes should therefore consider the option of a remote mediation.
At iLaw , our Dispute Resolution solicitors in London have successfully resolved many disputes by way of mediation and our head of practice is a qualified mediator.