Greater Manchester Chamber now has its own Business Dispute Resolution service, which can assist you if you're facing a dispute, whether it be commercial or civil.
This is the final in a series of six articles on mediation, by David Richbell, a mediator who has been helping parties resolve business disputes over the past twenty-five years.
The Concluding Phase of Mediation
Most mediators will put the principals together to agree the final details of a deal. It is their deal and they should own it. It is one of the reasons why mediated deals stick – it is very rare for them to unravel after the mediation. Unfortunately, once the deal is struck it is not the end. It has to be written up – the rule is that parties are not committed to a deal until it is in writing and signed. Some people say this is a weakness but it emphasises the fact that it is the parties deal and they have a right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to it right to the end.
Writing up the deal
It is very rare for lawyers not to be present at Commercial mediations and so it becomes their responsibility to write up the deal. It is not the mediators – even when parties are not represented it is important for the parties to agree the wording of the Settlement Agreement. The mediator oversees the writing up and may offer comments or suggestions.
Some lawyers have ‘boilerplate’ Settlement Agreements, of the shelf documents that can be adapted to suit the particular case. This can be useful and reduce the normal two hours that it takes to get the wording right. The potential downside is that ‘standard’ clauses creep in that were relevant to a past case but not to this particular one. So a simple two page document can creep into a ten page one!
Once the Settlement Agreement is signed everyone can go home. Or to the pub.
If the deal is not made
A few cases do not settle on the day but, even if that is the case, most people agree that such progress was made, the understanding of the positions much greater, that negotiations often continue after the mediation day, and settlement is achieved a few weeks later. In any case, the mediator will normally bring people together at the end of the mediation, summarise the situation and get the parties to agree how to build upon the progress made during the day.
But most do settle, and that is one of the big reasons to take a dispute to mediation.
If this article has made you think mediation could help your business, you can visit www.gmchamber.co.uk/business-dispute-resolution for more information on the Chamber's Business Dispute Resolution service.