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Never too late to mediate?
Mediation is a confidential dispute resolution process whereby an independent third person tries to bridge the gaps between parties and reach a negotiated settlement before a dispute goes to trial. However, JMW recently helped guide a client through the mediation process nearly a year after a trial!
Everything seemed to be going really well for our client after she instructed JMW to represent her in a dispute over the purchase of a vehicle. On JMW’s advice she made offers to settle the case and offered to participate in mediation but these were refused by her opponent. The case went to trial and our client won. She got all of her money back and our costs were to be paid by her opponent. All in all a great result.
So what’s the relevance of mediation? Our client’s opponent decided to appeal the trial judge’s decision and the Court of Appeal granted permission for the appeal. The parties were now heading back to court but this time in front of some of the most senior judges in the country. A relatively small dispute was now a few weeks away from making legal history.
We advised our client to try to mediate the dispute as it would avoid the risk and costs of going back to court. The mediation went ahead and after nearly 10 hours of negotiations, JMW were able to secure a settlement that was favourable to our client.
After the mediation, all of the lawyers agreed that they were amazed that an out of court settlement happened. Everybody thought the gaps between the parties were just too big to bridge. However, this case showed that an out of court settlement is usually available if the parties try their best to come to a mutually agreeable solution and the lawyers give appropriate and realistic advice about the risks involved if a case doesn’t settle.
This case could have gone to the Court of Appeal and the result would have been devastating for one of the parties. Our client’s opponent may well have gone into liquidation if it lost the appeal. Instead, because of mediation, it settled on terms all could agree with. It just shows, it’s never too late to mediate.