When the parties’ own attempts to resolve a dispute are failing, the sensible choice is to entrust its resolution to an expert. From an unpaid invoice to a complex dispute over a construction project, our litigation specialists provide our public sector clients with objective advice and guide them through proceedings. For complex disputes, court proceedings can be notoriously time-consuming and expensive. Sometimes they are unavoidable. At other times, mediation or arbitration can be an alternative. Our lawyers can advise on the best course of action. Whichever course a client chooses, our lawyers will endeavour to strike the right balance between lessening the burden on our client at what can be a stressful time, and keeping them informed of progress at all times. We will ascertain the outcome our client wishes to achieve and will work closely with them to try to realise it.
We regularly act for our clients on:
- disputes over contractual obligations;
- property related proceedings;
- claims relating to civil wrongs, such as negligence resulting in personal injury or financial loss;
- the recovery of debts, and insolvency proceedings.
We also act for our public sector clients on the judicial review of their decisions, where members of the public challenge the manner in which a decision has been made. We have recently acted for clients on judicial reviews where decisions relating to an incinerator near Kings Lynn and the road layout in Norwich were upheld.
Mediation can be used to resolve a dispute at any time provided that both parties agree to it. There is no requirement that the parties should have already instructed lawyers or issued legal proceedings. The mediator is a neutral third party who facilitates discussions with the aim of reaching a consensus: the mediator cannot impose any solution. We have trained mediators on our staff and can instruct independent mediators where necessary.
The benefits of mediation include:
Mediation is cheaper than court proceedings. Sometimes savings can amount to thousands of pounds;
Litigation can be a slow process lasting months or even years whereas mediation can take place very quickly;
The parties decide where and when the mediation should take place and how it should be conducted, for example whether they wish to meet face-to-face or remain in separate rooms while the mediator conducts “shuttle diplomacy”, and they can vary these arrangements whenever they see fit;
Whereas court proceedings are generally open to the public, the mediation process is strictly confidential. It is also conducted on a “without prejudice” basis so that the parties can speak freely without the risk of anything that is said being admissible in court if the mediation does not succeed;
In a mediation there are no restrictions on its outcome. For example the parties can agree on an appropriate level of compensation or on an apology, arrangements for the operation of a contract or dispute resolution mechanisms for the future. Usually the only outcomes of court proceedings are orders for damages or injunctions;
Under recent legislation, if the parties go to court without having entered into at least one mediation session, the court can impose significant cost penalties.