If you own a business, disputes are all but inevitable given the numerous complex relationships even a small business relies on to operate and grow. The more your business grows, the more complex those relationships are likely to become, which increases the likelihood of a dispute that can lead to litigation. Litigation, in turn, often threatens the financial stability and future growth of your business. If your business is facing litigation, mediation should be considered as a way to resolve the underlying dispute in less time and with less expense than traditional litigation.
Common Business Disputes
For a business, the threat of litigation can come from within the business itself, from a customer/client, from a supplier, wholesaler, or manufacturer, or from an outside third party. Just a few of the common underlying causes of business litigation include:
- Breach of Contract
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty
- Intellectual Property issues
- Business Fraud
- Partnership Disputes
- Employer/Employee Conflicts
- Business Dissolution
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Unlike arbitration, another commonly used form of ADR, mediation does not require you to forego the option to pursue traditional litigation. Instead, mediation occurs during the traditional litigation process or prior to filing a lawsuit to try and avoid litigation. Mediation utilizes a third-party mediator, chosen by all parties, who has specialized training and experience in dispute resolution. A mediator does not decide issues at dispute. Instead, a mediator’s role is to help the parties find a mutually agreeable resolution that avoids the time and expense of litigation. If mediation is not successful, litigation remains an option.
Advantages of Business Litigation Mediation
If your business is involved in a legal dispute that appears to be headed for litigation or has already resulted in a lawsuit being filed, there are several important advantages to participating in mediation. Advantages mediation offers compared to traditional litigation include:
- Quicker. A traditional lawsuit takes years to make it through the slow-moving judicial process. Mediation, on the other hand, can resolve a dispute before it becomes a lawsuit or at any time after a lawsuit has been initiated.
- Less Expensive. Litigating a business lawsuit can strain your financial resources and threaten the future financial stability of the company. If you lose, you may even be required to pay the other party’s legal fees. The cost of mediation, however, is shared by the parties. Moreover, if mediation is successful, it will save you from incurring the often-exorbitant expenses involved in traditional litigation.
- Confidential. Litigation is a very public process that can be damaging to the reputation of your business. Mediation occurs outside the courtroom with only the parties and the mediator present. Unless the parties reach a settlement that is filed with the court, nothing that occurs during mediation is part of the official public record.
- Less Risky. If you follow the traditional litigation path, a judge or jury will eventually decide the issues in dispute. No matter how sure you may be that you will prevail, taking a case to trial involves significant risk. Conversely, mediation allows you to have a direct impact on the outcome, therefore decreasing the financial and reputational risk to your business.
- Successful. Mediation not only works, but it is less adversarial than traditional litigation which can help preserve the relationship between the parties. A 2016 survey of mediators of commercial disputes in the UK conducted biennially since 2010 has reported success rates between 67 percent and 75 percent on the day of mediation and between 86 percent and 90 percent on the day of the mediation or within a short time thereafter. The American Arbitration Association reports an 85 percent success rate for mediation in commercial disputes.
Consult the Tampa Bay Business Litigation Mediation Attorneys at Lieser Skaff Alexander
If your business is already involved in litigation, or litigation has been threatened, mediation should be considered as a cost-effective and time-saving alternative to the traditional judicial process. Our experienced business litigation mediation attorneys have the experience and skills needed to mediate your dispute and help you reach a favorable agreement that resolves all issues.