MEDIATION IN LOCKDOWN
In the current unusual circumstances caused by Covid-19 we have all had to think of new ways of working. During the last nine weeks I have been conducting MIAMS appointments and Mediation sessions via ZOOM and I have to say this has been a success. Two notable benefits are:
- Reduced levels of stress
The fact clients conduct these meetings in the comfort of their own homes, I think reduces the level of anxiety they inevitably feel in having to deal with very difficult issues surrounding their relationship breakdown.
- flexibility of appointments
Another benefit of conducting mediation remotely means clients do not have to travel into chambers and mediation appointments can be conducted outside office opening hours. So more flexible arrangements around the clients timetable i.e. when the children have been put to bed for example or at weekends.
Ongoing benefits of mediation
The vast majority of claims and family disputes are suitable for mediation, from small value disputes which do not justify the expense of litigation, to high value disputes which require speedy, confidential and commercial solutions.
A mediation can be held at any time, both before and after court proceedings have been issued. However, it is normally sensible to wait to have a mediation once the full nature of the dispute is clear and a proper investigation of the issues has been made by both parties.
Mediation is statistically a very successful way of settling disputes. The fact that the parties are attending a mediation focuses minds on settlement and also the strengths and weaknesses of the case. If a mediation leads to a settlement it can save time and reduce costs for both parties which would otherwise be incurred through the court action.
In my experience, even if the parties don’t settle the dispute at the mediation, it unlocks the deadlock and a settlement can usually be achieved a short while later.
Please remember during these difficult times mediation is still readily available. Mediation is a useful tool at all times and can be a viable and effective alternative to court proceedings.
DAVID O’BRIEN (Accredited Mediator)
29th May 2020