Mediation is often a faster and cheaper way of resolving disputes and so early referral to mediation can be an advantage. Our mediators are acutely aware of the cost, perils and pitfalls of litigation and the court process.
Most disputes arise from conflict between people in the context of business relationships, employment, family, property and inheritance. We all disagree with one another from time to time. At MWW we believe the best way to resolve those disagreements is by face to face discussion and not arm’s length negotiation.
It is impossible to go through life without a disagreement with someone. When you find yourself involved in a dispute, who do you turn to and how do you resolve the issue? The traditional way is through the legal process and the court system. There is another way and that is mediation. Mediation helps people resolve disputes and disagreements through controlled discussion and negotiation. Mediation brings people together to talk and listen without the pressure and anxiety caused by court proceedings. Mediation may not be for everyone and it may not be suitable for every dispute but it is becoming increasingly more popular as a cost effective and more civilised way of resolving disputes.
The civil mediation process is one in which two or more people involved in a dispute meet and with the help of a mutual third person (the mediator), work out a solution to their problem. Each participant describes the dispute from their point of view and in their own terms as well as how they think the matter can be resolved. It is the job of the mediator to help focus attention on the relevant issues and help the participants identify a workable solution.
Why Use Mediation?
The power remains with the participants with the aim of mediation to come to a private, cost effective arrangement without prejudice, whereby the parties avoid a deterioration in the relationship. Lawyers may remain involved and work creatively with their clients/participants, but not destructively.
Some common misconceptions about mediation
The mediator is an arbitrator or a judge.
The mediator persuades the participants.
The mediator imposes a settlement.
Only lawyers can be mediators.
It’s like expert determination isn’t it?
The mediator tells participants what the judge will do.
Joint settlement meetings are more effective.
Telephone negotiation is cheaper.
It is a waste of time – nothing settles.
All of these misconceptions are wrong.
The mediator is impartial, independent and neutral. They help motivate and facilitate discussions to assist the parties in promoting a settlement.
Anyone can train to be a mediator.
Most mediations are successful. If the parties really want to settle – they will.
Mediation, with the aid of a mediator cannot be equalled by joint settlement meetings, telephone negotiation or the like.
Mediation provides principled negotiation.
Does not depend on the skill or power of the participants.
Provides a fair and balanced atmosphere.
Creates a basis for mutual trust to be restored.
Provides a neutral third participant.
Allows participants to proceed at a pace with which they are both comfortable.
Is structured yet flexible.
Allows the skills of the mediator to explore a range of solutions and allows participants to think outside the box.
Allows movement from issues to interests and wants.
Puts the participants in control.
What does it cost?
This is where mediation completely wins “hands down” over litigation.
It has often been said that the twin scourges of justice are delay and expense. That is as true today as it was 20 years ago.
There are large sections of the community who simply cannot afford litigation and even in a modest dispute before the court, legal expenses of each party may run up to £5,000 – £10,000 and in any substantial case may range from £20,000 – £70,000.
Yet, the courts only try (that is to say a judge hears and determines) a very small percentage of cases through the courts, less than 10%. It follows from this that 90+% are settling before trial. Settlements are often late, sometimes on the steps of the court, and yet have to take into account huge legal expenses of both parties at that time.
Mediation can happen at any time, but the earlier the better. Participants may or may not be legally represented at mediation.
A one day mediation may involve the costs of a mediator which, depending on the weight and complexity of the matter, may charge between £2,500 and £4,000 exc. VAT for a mediation. Commonly, the charge is £3,000 plus VAT, which cost is divided between the two participants.
Thus, it is quite possible for a dispute to be settled at a mediation costing the party £1,500 plus VAT (plus his own lawyer’s expenses if the participant brings his lawyer to the mediation). This is extremely modest compared to the way in which litigation costs may soon be run up. A good litigator is charging £200 per hour and so it follows if he only has to do 7 or 8 hours work to charge the same as a participants’ costs in a mediation.
When couples separate it is often difficult for them to communicate. When a relationship breaks down no two people are at the same point emotionally. Our Family Mediation Service offers a trained family mediator who can help couples discuss the important issues arising from their decision to part company by working with them to reach agreement.
How does Family Mediation work?
Couples will arrange a meeting with a mediator. Those meetings usually last about an hour and a half. The mediator will help determine the issues that need to be discussed and what information needs to be provided.
General legal information is provided by the mediator and during the process after all the factual information has been provided (disclosure), the mediator will help the couple review the information and will use it as the basis for discussion about possible ways to settle their issues.
What sort of issues can be resolved through Family Mediation?
Understanding the financial position of the family and how assets and income are to be divided to provide for each family member, whether adult or child.
Are the arrangements for the care of the children right for all concerned. Children are the most important people in any relationship breakdown. They often feel ignored and so in mediation their needs are put first. If it is felt appropriate the children can take part in the family mediation process and arrangements can be made for them to see a mediator who has specialist training to work with children.
The extended famIly may benefit from family mediation. Grandparents sometimes feel left out and could benefit from being involved in the process.
Family mediation may involve disputes about a deceased’s estate. Someone’s will can be out of date and exclude an individual who perhaps ought to be included. Inheritance disputes can be very costly if argued in the traditional way through the court process. Mediation could help in those circumstances.
How many sessions are needed and what will it cost?
The family mediation process is driven and controlled by the parties. The role of the mediator is to help couples talk about their issues and to facilitate agreement.
The process will usually take between 3 and 6 sessions of 90 minutes each.
Individual mediators set their own fees but the cost is usually between £220 and £250 for each hour to be divided in whichever way is agreed.
At Mediation Wiltshire and West we believe our mediators’ charges are competitive and that resolution of disputes through family mediation, providing both parties fully engage and commit to the process, is more cost effective and a better use of resources than using the court process.
You need to think it through – do you want a Judge telling you how your finances are to be divided or how often you will see the children or do you want to sort things out between you with the help of a skilled and knowledgeable mediator? It is your future.
Child & Family Consultants
Child and Family Consultants are not usually lawyers, but skilled professionals in other disciplines who work with parents and children to help them manage difficult situations which arise as a result of issues within the family.
Children are directly affected by divorce and relationship breakdown. Parents are often too close and involved to provide their children with support and understanding. Parents may feel guilty and worried about the effect of their conflict on their children. A Child and Family Consultant can help parents look at things from their child’s point of view and work with the family to organise the future in the child’s best interests.
Child and Family Consultants will listen and talk to children to explain and help them understand the turmoil in their life which inevitably flows from divorce and family breakdown.
Child Family Consultants work with parents, mediators, lawyers and other professionals to help parents make decisions for and about their children, which are in their long term best interests.
We provide client focussed legal advice and assistance.
Our solicitors strive to deliver the best advice and assistance and an outstanding customer experience.
We serve our customers right the way across Wiltshire and Hampshire with offices in Warminster, Amesbury, Stockbridge and Andover.