In North Carolina, construction ebbs and flows but never ceases. The more complex a project is, there is a higher likelihood the parties have executed a written contract. An unambiguous contract dramatically reduces disputes, though the risk of disagreements cannot be eliminated. Many construction disputes can be resolved without litigation, and mediation is a viable alternative. In this article, our construction dispute lawyers explain how mediation can help you resolve a construction contract dispute.
What is Mediation in North Carolina?
The North Carolina Judicial Branch explains that mediation is a voluntary, confidential, and informal dispute resolution process. In mediation, a mediator acts as a neutral third party and assists the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. In our state, mediation is governed by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission (NCDRC), which sets the standards for court-ordered mediation and ensures that mediators are properly trained and certified. Unlike litigation, mediation is not adversarial, and the mediator will not engage in decision-making or impose a solution on the parties. Instead, the mediator facilitates communication, helps the parties identify their interests, and encourages them to explore various options to reach a satisfactory resolution.
Why Mediation is Effective in Construction Contract Disputes
In busy times, parties locked in a dispute over a construction contract have difficulty completing a project. Whether you are a contractor, subcontractor, property owner, property developer, or other party, mediation is an option that can get projects moving without the time and expense of litigation. Here are some notable advantages of mediation for these cases:
- Simplicity: Construction contracts often involve multiple parties, intricate technical details, and complicated legal provisions. Mediation can help the parties navigate these complexities and reach a mutually satisfactory resolution.
- Flexibility: Mediation allows the parties to tailor the process to their specific needs, which can be particularly useful in construction disputes, where the circumstances and issues can vary greatly.
- Cost-Effectiveness: Construction disputes can be lengthy and costly, particularly when they go to court. Mediation will generally move along faster and be less expensive than litigation, saving parties both time and money.
- Confidentiality: Mediation is a confidential process that allows the parties to discuss sensitive information without the risk of public disclosure, which can be especially important in construction contract disputes.
- Preserving relationships: Construction projects often involve long-term relationships between contractors, subcontractors, and owners. Mediation promotes a collaborative approach, which can help maintain these relationships and minimize the negative impact of disputes on the project.
Tips to Prepare for Mediation of Your Commercial Dispute
Getting the most out of mediation in a construction contract dispute requires preparation. Here are some tips you can use to help you prepare for a construction contract dispute mediation in North Carolina:
- Choose the Right Mediator: Select a mediator with experience and expertise in construction contract disputes and ensure that they are certified by the NCDRC. An experienced mediator will be better equipped to understand the unique challenges.
- Get Organized: Gather all relevant documents, including contracts, invoices, correspondence, and photographs, and be prepared to present your case clearly and concisely. Understand the legal issues and your contractual obligations to build a strong case. The more details you have, the better position you will be in to reach a decisive outcome.
- Develop a Negotiation Strategy: Before entering the mediation process, develop a negotiation strategy that outlines your opening position, desired outcomes, and fallback positions. Doing so will help you stay organized and focused during the mediation sessions. You and your company should come into the process will a full understanding of the key issues and a willingness to look for areas of potential compromise.
- Get a Lawyer: Although mediation is less formal than litigation, having a lawyer to represent your interests can be extremely beneficial. A lawyer with experience in construction contract disputes can help you understand the legal issues, develop a strong negotiation strategy, and ensure that any resulting agreement is legally enforceable.
Contact Our Construction Dispute Mediation Attorney Today
At Anderson Jones, PLLC, our construction law attorneys have extensive experience helping our clients find the best solution for their situation. If you have any questions about mediation for a dispute over a construction contract, we can help. Contact our law firm today to set up your completely confidential initial appointment.