The path to resolution may appear to be a difficult one when faced with a dispute. Is going to court the best course of action or are there other, more amicable options available? These are dispute resolutions. The process of settling conflicts, disagreements, or disputes between parties in a fair and agreeable manner is referred to as dispute resolution. There is a rich array of dispute resolution methods, including negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and litigation, each offering distinct approaches to resolving conflicts. Finding mutually agreeable solutions that can mend relationships, keep peace, and bring closure to the persons concerned is the aim of dispute resolution. Today, we will examine important distinctions between mediation and litigation, the two popular methods for resolving disputes.
Mediation is similar to having a chat with an experienced referee. A neutral third party, the mediator, supports you and the opposing side in reaching an agreement. Mediation is entirely voluntary, which means both parties agree to participate. It’s a cooperative, non-confrontational approach to resolving disputes. Other than that, you retain control of the outcome. Mediation allows you to negotiate and come to an agreement that suits both parties’ needs, rather than having a judge decide for you. More importantly, mediation is often more cost-effective than litigation, as it typically takes less time and involves fewer legal fees. Mediation is a process focused on helping both parties meet in the middle. Unlike litigation, which results in a clear winner and loser, mediation can potentially satisfy both parties, which is fundamental to maintaining professional relationships. In order to ensure that their clients’ best interests are served during mediation, one or both parties may decide to have legal counsel on their side. Alternately, both parties may decide to have legal counsel, but not have the counsel present in person throughout the mediation. Prior to the mediation conference, lawyers can meet with their respective clients to explain their rights and offer advice on what objectives they should aim to achieve during the mediation.
Litigation, on the other hand, is a legal battle where each party presents their case to a judge. It involves lawyers advocating for their clients’ interests in a court. There are a wide variety of cases that can be resolved using litigation. These can include;
- Commercial disputes e.g. claims for breach of contract;
- Matrimonial matters e.g. a divorce petition;
- Personal injury claims e.g. monetary claims arising out of an accident where a person suffered harm;
- Employment disputes e.g. claim for wrongful dismissal.
Unlike mediation, litigation can be initiated unilaterally. One party can file a lawsuit, and the other party is obligated to respond. The final decision is made by a judge. You have less control over the outcome, as it depends on legal arguments and evidence presented. Litigation can be time-consuming and expensive. Complex cases may even drag on for years.
In the end, the choice between mediation and litigation depends on your specific circumstances. Mediation offers a collaborative, flexible, and often less costly approach that focuses on preserving relationships. Litigation, on the other hand, can be necessary for certain cases where court intervention is required.
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Prepared by Sharifah Rania Aljunied