Using Mediation for Resolving Disputes

This case study shows how mediation can be more beneficial to a business relationship than other dispute resolution mechanisms.

Companies that find themselves embroiled in a bitter feud over a contract dispute have three options to find a solution. They can litigate their claim through the court system; go to arbitration; or use a mediator to resolve the dispute. Many companies have invariably used one of these processes to address a dispute. However, there are significant differences that should be considered before deciding upon which method to take.

It probably goes without saying that litigation is likely the more expensive and is the most time consuming. Lawyers have a knack for tying up a case in a tangle of legal knots for years. The outcome is often uncertain and the resulting benefits can be nebulous at best.

Arbitration, as it turns may not be that much more productive than litigation, as this dispute resolution process can also be both costly and time consuming for the participants. However, the effect and influence of arbitrators can vary quite significantly between countries and cultures. In some countries, arbitrators may be inclined to impose a settlement on the parties in dispute, and in other countries they may be inclined to facilitate a more amicable agreement. Arbitration may be a more proactive venue than litigation. One thing is clear about a dispute in a joint venture partnership though; there is little hope that the relationship between the partners will likely survive either process.

Often, too many companies will resort to either of these first two options first. This may be a mistake.

This brings us to mediation. Mediation is the least used process to resolve disputes. So, what are the similarities and the differences? First, a mediator is chosen by both parties, and will bring their own applicable expertise to the dispute process and an understanding for the basis of the dispute. More importantly, mediators are both neutral and objective. The mediator will use the resources of both parties to help both parties resolve their conflict. In other words, a mediator, more than anyone else, can help mend a contractual dispute and save a relationship. Let’s look at an example.

In Italy, a company called Nuovo Pignone, which manufactured heavy equipment, was being sued by an insurance company to recoup a claim they paid out to one NP’s customers. The customer had lost business when some of the equipment it had purchased from NP failed in contract job. NP suggested they use a mediator. Both the insurance company and the customer who had sustained the loss agreed. A retired Italian judge was called in to mediate. The judge focused on settlement as his objective in the dispute.

By taking this approach, the parties were able to more realistically gauge each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The customer was persuaded to put pressure on the insurance company as he was still a valued customer of both parties despite his dispute with NP. As a result, the insurance company was persuaded to settle for a reasonable amount for a reasonable and acceptable amount of money. In the end, all parties were satisfied through the mediator’s efforts and the business relationship between the parties was successfully maintained.

A mediator can more readily help the parties shape or restructure their agreements and is thereby more likely to also preserve a profitable ongoing relationship than would have been achieved through either litigation or arbitration. Next time you enter in a dispute, check out the available mediation services before you give your lawyer a call and enter the point of no return.

Reader Comments

Average Rating:

Total Comments: 1

View or Write a comment


Back to Negotiation Case Studies

This page's contents may be re-published in full or part - we ask only that you include an honest html link back to this site, preferably to our negotiation skills training page.


 
Reader Comments

Average Reader Rating:       Comments: 1

share your comment


4 of 4 people found the following comment useful:

Mediation the best way to resolve problems. - 2009 Feb 17
Commentator: Josue Vazquez (Mexico - Distrito Federal)

"I can say that this article contribute to change the mind of the people who manage a business, because, like the article said, many of the companies that have problems use Mediation as the last resource, but they didnt know that this method is very useful, and more cheaper than other one. The most important advantage that i see in this method is that the two parts in conflict, can resolve the problem using Mediation without problems in the future, because when they solved the problem talked all the circumstances around it and find a way to fix it."

Useful Comment? Vote

This page's contents may be re-published in full or part - we ask only that you include an honest html link back to this site, preferably to our negotiation skills training page.

 
.
.

Negotiation Newsletter

Confirm
No
Yes
111