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Mediation Versus Litigation: Choosing the Right Path

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mediation or litigation

Disputes of any kind can continue to escalate the longer they go on. They can become extremely distressing and draining experiences for those involved. When faced with a conflict, individuals and businesses must decide on the best approach to find an appropriate resolution.

The key things to consider when deciding between mediation and legal proceedings are, how long the dispute has been going on for, and how severe the situation has become.

Mediation is an incredibly effective tool to resolve disputes but it needs to be introduced early before disputes cross the line of no return and emotions and perceptions reach such a place that an amicable resolution becomes impossible. When situations get to this point, legal proceedings can often be the only remaining option.

In this article we’re going to look at the benefits of each option, what they entail, and how you can identify which option to explore depending on the situation you’re in personally, or the current state of the case you’re working on in a professional capacity.

Mediation: A Collaborative Approach

Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process involving a neutral, third party mediator assisting the parties involved to reach a mutually acceptable resolution. It encourages open communication and cooperation between the parties. The mediator doesn’t direct or suggest possible outcomes, they facilitate.

For mediation to work, both parties need to want it to work and they need to fully immerse themselves into the process.

Benefits of Mediation

When you turn to mediation before things get too ugly it’s exceptionally effective.

Mediation:

  • Preserves relationships
  • Reignites positive relationships
  • Eliminates misunderstandings
  • Creates positive perceptions of the other party’s situation
  • Empowers those involved
  • Creates sustainable solutions – people want to stick to agreements they created themselves
  • Is fast, efficient, and has a great success rate

Litigation: A Last Resort?

Litigation is a formal legal process in which parties present their case before a judge or jury who then decides on a course of action. This adversarial approach often involves legal professionals advocating for each side.

As much as mediation is effective towards the beginning of a dispute progressing, litigation is often the only option left when a case progresses too far for things to end amicably without legal intervention.

Benefits of Litigation

Litigation can often end up being the only remaining option – a last resort. But by taking the power away from warring parties, at least a forced resolution is a resolution and it puts the matter to bed, at least for the time being.

Litigation:

  • Creates legally binding arrangements
  • Provides clear-cut, enforceable actions
  • Can offer legal protection to allow people to move on from dangerous situations safely
  • Forces resolutions in cases where it has proved impossible to find one through other methods

Choosing the Right Path

A lot will depend on the characteristics of the individual case. A key question to consider is the type of outcome that you want to achieve – an amicable one, or a forced one.

Is there a chance to save relationships, or are things too broken to be fixed? Are the parties capable of, and willing to try to resolve their own conflict?

If so, mediation is cost-effective, fast, sustainable, and it works.

If there is no chance of the parties working together to find a mutually beneficial agreement, litigation may be the answer.

With litigation you get the comfort of having a legally forced agreement in place, however it can come with high costs, it can be very time consuming, and it’s often a slow process from start to finish.

Your approach to dispute resolution will therefore very much depend on the unique set of circumstances that you’re faced with.

By carefully considering the nature of the dispute, desired outcomes, and practical considerations, you can make an informed decision and choose the right path for you.

Is Mediation the Answer For You?

Mediation is an approach you can try regardless of how far a case has progressed despite it being more effective the earlier you implement it, and if it doesn’t work, you still have the legal route at your disposal.

At ADR Mediation we offer a range of mediation services to help housing associations, communities, businesses and individuals overcome all manner of disputes.

Call us on 01772 954602 or email info@adrmediation.org.uk to find out more about what we can do for you.

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