If there was a way to resolve business disputes without the costs and hassle of litigation, you would certainly want to know more about your options. Most Florida business owners share in this view and are considering business mediation as a means of smoothing over disagreements. There is a such a corporate mediation program under the rules of the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Florida, which covers Pinellas and Pasco Counties. It is important to consult with a Clearwater, FL business attorney and certified civil mediator before making a decision regarding this alternative, but some answers to common question may be informative.
How does business or corporate mediation work?
Before resorting to litigation – or shortly after filing – parties have the option to take their business dispute to mediation for resolution of differences. The proceedings take place before a third-party, neutral mediator, along with the parties and their respective attorneys. During the session, the mediator will facilitate productive conversations regarding the dispute in an effort to help the parties reach an agreement. If they do compromise on outstanding issues, the mediator can assist with implementing the agreed-to plan going forward.
What are the benefits of mediating business disputes?
Cost is one of the main motivators in choosing mediation over litigation. A lawsuit is expensive when you take into account attorneys’ fees, expenses related to discovery, and other costs. However, there are other advantages to business mediation:
- The process moves quickly compared to litigation, as the session could be completed within a day.
- There is significant risk involved with litigation and less control over the proceedings. With mediation, the parties contribute to the result instead of leaving it up to the judge or jury.
- Your business reputation and relationships can suffer if news of a lawsuit gets out.
Does a mediator use specific strategies to facilitate compromise?
A Florida certified civil mediator is specially trained to assist with business disputes. The objective is to get the parties together for productive discussions that encourage settlement on contractual disputes, issues between business partners, and any other disputes that may arise in the business environment. A mediator may use such strategies as:
- Brainstorming ways to modify a contract;
- Implementing an installment plan for back payments;
- Comparing each party’s proposal for resolving the matter, in an attempt to get the parties closer to agreement;
- Reviewing the facts and application of Florida law, so the parties can assess their strengths and weaknesses; and,
- Many other tactics
What happens if we still cannot agree?
Fortunately, business mediation is non-binding and confidential. This means that you can still take the matter to court if you cannot reach an agreement through the mediation process. Your statements and information presented during the proceedings cannot be admitted into court.
Discuss Corporate Mediation with a Knowledgeable Florida Business Law Attorney
For more information on the benefits of mediation and whether it may work for your business, please contact Clearwater Business Law at (727) 785-5100 to schedule a consultation. Andrew J. Mongelluzzi is a certified civil mediator in Pinellas County, FL, who can explain the process and tell you more about what to expect.