Four Steps for Resolving a Business Dispute at Mediation

In a recent post we emphasized the importance and potentially significant benefits of properly preparing when a commercial dispute heads to mediation. Once the mediation starts there are several ways you can actively contribute to the session that will greatly increase the chance of reaching a settlement.

Keys to a Productive Mediation

  1. Say something during the opening. For the mediation process to work most effectively both parties need to communicate. Saying something during the opening will help set the right tone and humanize the process. This is particularly important if the parties do not know each other or have not spoken for a considerable length of time due to the conflict.
  2. If there are aspects of the other party’s viewpoints that you agree with, highlight these as a way of establishing a good rapport.
  3. Stay involved in the conversation and listen closely. Mediation is a conversation. Don’t hesitate to speak if you have a question, have a comment you want to make or if you want to respond to something stated by the other. By staying involved you increase the amount of information available and raise the chances of identifying the key or underlying issues which need to be addressed. The more you demonstrate your commitment to the process by staying involved, the greater the chances the other side will do the same. And be sure to listen to the other side. You may learn something.
  4. Make use of your mediator. You pay the mediator well and they can help bring about a settlement, if allowed to do so. If you trust the mediator there is no reason they should not be part of a most of your discussions with counsel. Remember, the mediator is the only person with access to both groups and can provide valuable suggestions and feedback on your negotiations including when to present evidence, how to structure your offer or respond to offers you receive.

In our final instalment on commercial disputes and mediation we’ll examine the best steps for presenting, negotiating and reaching a settlement.

Stephen Kelly Lisa Langevin