Mediation is a process whereby disputants find, if possible, a mutually acceptable resolution of their differences. The mediator, a neutral third party, facilitates civil communication and creative problem-solving, while also effectively managing the mediation process.
The mediator can aid the parties in building their own solution, and the mediator can also assist the disputants recognize the alternatives to a negotiated settlement.
Properly done, mediation can be the intervention that assists parties in resolving complex and destructive conflict. Mediation is particularly effective and useful where the disputing parties have and wish to maintain an ongoing relationship.
Over the course of a dispute, parties can develop entrenched views as well as unrealistic expectations of their likelihood of success and/or quantum of damages.
This hinders settlement or resolution. When parties have unrealistic expectations or overly optimistic/entrenched views of the merits of their own position, a neutral evaluation can assist the parties in understanding the weakness and strengths of their position, as well as that of the other party.
Neutral Evaluation is a process whereby disputants seek the opinion of a neutral third party. Following the presentation of each parties position and best evidence, the neutral renders an opinion that, hopefully, will reign in the parties’ unrealistic views/expectations and encourage the parties to settle their dispute or renew negotiation.
The arbitrator reviews the evidence in the matter (including affidavit evidence or viva voce evidence) and then renders a decision that may speak to liability and, if appropriate, quantum of damages. Where the disputants have agreed or legislation requires that the arbitrator’s decision will be final and binding. This method resolves disputes outside the judicial system, but at the same time affording the parties the opportunity to utilise many of the same tools.
Whether negotiating a commercial agreement/contract, a purchase, a sale or a merger, structured negotiations allow the parties and their representatives the opportunity to bargain for optimal results using civility and discussion-based reasoning. A party may wish to engage my services as a professional negotiator to negotiate on their behalf or advise them on how to negotiate, or all parties may wish to engage my services as a neutral negotiator to ensure that the formal discussions remain relevant, civil and timely. Negotiation provides a flexible forum for parties to shape the ultimate outcome in accordance with their mutual needs. When parties adopt an interest-based approach to bargaining, rather than a positional one, they can focus their discussions on their mutual needs and interests and use mechanisms like objective standards or a mutually agreed upon agenda to reach an agreement that is durable, acceptable and wise.