The Basics of Mediating Business Disputes
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has set out the basics in mediating business disputes. This would provide adequate knowledge to parties involved in disputes to appreciate the extent of assistance that could be sought from the process of mediation.
In mediation, the objective of the parties is to arrive at a mutually acceptable settlement by discussion and consensus. If such a settlement is not possible, parties are free to walk out and resolve the dispute by arbitration or litigation.
It has several unique features. It commences only if both parties agree to mediate the dispute. It involves a neutral third party acting as a facilitator and not as a judge. It is confidential and no record is kept of the proceedings and only the mediator and the parties are present. It requires the parties to be fully in control of the negotiations between them and they decide the outcome. It is a friendly process involving cooperative problem solving and does not require the parties to engage in any adversarial actions like in arbitration or litigation. It is therefore ideal for the business situation.
The mediator is a neutral third party, a professional from the business sector, who has received a training in dispute resolution. He helps communication between the parties and helps each side to get a clearer picture of the case. He works with the parties so that they could arrive at a mutually acceptable settlement. He is not a decision maker. He will not express any opinion on the issues in dispute and will not judge who is right and who is wrong. He must keep all discussions confidential and cannot be called as a witness, if the dispute is referred to any other forum for resolution.
The mediation sessions begin with the parties describing the problem they are faced with, to the mediator. This leads to the identification of issues to be resolved by mediation. The next step is the identification of the stakeholders and their interests. Generation and evaluation of options to settle the dispute takes place next and finally the parties agree on a settlement. At any stage during this process, the mediator may meet with the parties separately or together for the purpose of helping the parties to explore a settlement.
Parties must furnish truthful information about the matters in dispute be polite and courteous, allow the other party to speak without interruption and clarify and disputed matters later, allow the mediator to interrupt the process as and when he considers it necessary to have a break, and make a sincere effort to arrive at a settlement.
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