Mediation works very well in many complex, multiple-party disputes to resolve competing claims and priorities among the parties. Since mediation is by nature more informal than court proceedings, the parties have greater opportunities to craft creative solutions for their problems and to confront the weaknesses of their cases. In today's litigation climate, when one incident can spawn multiple lawsuits against different parties, mediation may be considerably cheaper and less time-consuming than going to trial in more than one case.
Parties can take a few steps to start out their multi-party or complex mediation with the best chance of success. First, each party should participate in the mediator's initial gathering of information. For example, the mediator may request pre-mediation telephone calls with parties to learn about their positions, or she may request that each party submit a detailed, written mediation brief (also called a position statement). Before the mediation, each party should gather documents and information supporting its claim, especially insurance information.
The parties often collaborate to choose a mediator. Picking a person who has worked on complex, multi-party mediations before will benefit everyone. Mediators act as leaders, organizers, and prioritizers when there are more than two parties or lawsuits. Choose someone who has a track record of finding common ground among disparate, feuding groups of people. In some cases, you may want to consider using a team of mediators. A team may be appropriate if there are several different confidential settlements to be negotiated in a short span of time or if a person with special expertise needs to evaluate some of the claims. Make sure your mediator can accommodate your large group in separate rooms for privacy.
At the mediation itself, prepare yourself to make concessions and have the worst parts of your claims or defenses emphasized. At the same time, pay attention to the facts that are discussed. Do not be afraid to speak up and mention any facts that help your position. The mediator needs your help because usually you are the one most familiar with what happened to you.
In contrast to a two-party mediation, you may find yourself waiting longer to exchange offers or discuss concessions. Be patient, and work with the process. Multi-party, complex mediation may seem to take a long time on the day of mediation, but it usually is much faster than court cases.
To find out more about mediation, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.
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