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 Understanding the Meeting Stages in the Commercial Dispute Mediation Process 

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If you fall into a commercial dispute with another business, it is essential for you to resolve it sooner rather than later. A business disagreement can delay your business activity and cause you to lose time and money. At the same time, you may value maintaining a business relationship with the other party to the dispute. If this is the case, you may consider resolving your conflict with mediation. In particular, the meeting stages of mediation ensure you effectively understand the other party’s side and build a strong foundation for working towards a mutual solution. This article will outline how meeting stages work in the commercial dispute mediation process and why they are important.

What is Commercial Dispute Mediation?

Commercial dispute mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method. Therefore, it is an out-of-court settlement method and less formal than commercial litigation. Furthermore, despite being both voluntary and flexible, the mediation process remains confidential. 

During mediation, a commercial mediator will facilitate discussions between you and the other party to help you resolve the dispute. In this discussion process, the final settlement agreement will often be a compromise. The mediator’s role is neutral and impartial as an independent third party to the commercial dispute. 

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What are the Meeting Stages in the Commercial Dispute Mediation Process? 

If you and the other party to a commercial dispute decide to try commercial mediation to resolve it, you will want to know about the mediation process. Importantly, there are no rigid procedures required. Instead, both parties will simply agree to a mediator and decide what the mediation process will look like. However, there can be some common steps within a mediation. These are:

  • an initial meeting;
  • private meetings;
  • a formal negotiation between the parties; and
  • a settlement.

The two meeting stages (initial and private) are primarily in place to allow the mediator to understand the issues in the commercial dispute. Usually, you, the other party and the mediator will have your own meditation rooms. There may also be a central room for all parties to meet in. 

Initial Meeting

The initial meeting in the commercial mediation process is like an introductory meeting and will take place in the central room if there is one. Here, you, the other party, your dispute lawyers and the mediator will meet. If you do not have a legal representative, you may choose a family member or friend to accompany you. In this meeting, the mediator will explain that the mediation process is:

  • voluntary
  • confidential;
  • guided by the neutral mediator; and
  • focused on both parties trying to find a settlement.

During this first meeting, you and the other parties will present your opening statements. These may also be known as position statements and can be done by either you or your lawyer. These are very important as they allow you to show your side of the dispute. At the same time, ensure your statement is succinct and gets to the point. The mediator will then point out and discuss:

  • any confusing areas you raise; and
  • potential areas which both parties could agree on. 

Private Meetings

Private meetings in the commercial mediation process are exclusive meetings between you and the mediator. Relevantly, they do not involve the other party and are completely confidential. You should therefore take advantage of these meetings, communicating to the mediator about:

  • specific worries you have about your side of the dispute; and
  • your argument’s strengths. 

Your mediator should test both of these with you to help you better understand your how you can fulfil your interests. 

As part of the private meetings, the role of the mediator is to facilitate negotiations between you and the other party. If you find a negotiation that you think will work as a settlement, you can use the mediator’s room to suggest this to the other party. 

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Key Takeaways

Commercial dispute mediation is a confidential and voluntary alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method. An independent mediator will facilitate meetings and discussions to help you both develop a settlement. As mediation is voluntary, there is no specific process for this dispute resolution method. However, it often begins with two important meeting stages, which are the:

  • initial meeting, which introduces you to the mediation process and gives you a chance to present your opening statement; and
  • private meetings between only you and the mediator. 

These allow the mediator to understand the issues and help you understand the strengths of your argument.If you need help understanding the meeting stages in the commercial dispute mediation process in the UK, LegalVision’s experienced disputes and litigation lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0808 196 8584 or visit our membership page.

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Clare Farmer

Clare Farmer

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