Litigating contentious contract disputes is expensive. Mediation is one of the best means of alternative dispute resolution that harnesses the efficiency of moderated communication and negotiations between parties. Mediation is cost-effective and helps preserve ongoing business relationships through compromise. North Carolina defines mediation as the “informal process conducted by a mediator with the objective of helping parties voluntarily settle their dispute.” (G.S. § 7A-38.1)
Preparing for mediation will help your business resolve disputes efficiently. You may ask How does one prepare for commercial mediation? Our seasoned business lawyers at Anderson Jones, PLLC, provide five tips that can help your company prepare for mediation of a contract dispute.
- Get Organized: Carefully Gather and Prepare Documents, Records, and Information
The first step in preparing for mediation is to gather relevant documents, records, and information related to the contract dispute. As with many things in business, proper organization can make all the difference. Information pertinent to your contract dispute will include a signed agreement and any emails, invoices, receipts, or other records that support your side of the dispute. Organizing these documents makes them easily accessible and helps make a mediation more efficient and less costly by avoiding time spent searching for documents.
- Carefully Define All of the Material Issues at Stake in the Contract Dispute
Another key step to prepare for contract mediation is to define the material issues that are at stake in your case. For the most part, contract disputes that go to mediation involve allegations that one (or more) parties breached the agreement. Some contract mediation proceedings are proactive and seek to resolve an anticipated dispute before an alleged breach has occurred. Identifying areas of dispute allows clear articulation of allegations to the mediator and other involved parties and attorneys. Mediation may resolve some or all areas of dispute, and resolution requires a signed, written agreement. Identifying your issues helps assure they are known and included or excluded from a signed agreement.
- Know Your Goals: You Need to Understand What You Want to Get Out of the Process
Mediation limits the costs and risks associated with litigation and post-litigation enforcement. Success at mediation often depends on setting aside the emotional impact of a contract dispute, the parties’ willingness to compromise, and their exchange of information. Heading into mediation, you should be cognizant of your goals and how they shape your strategy for communicating with other parties and sharing information. You should contemplate what outcomes may be acceptable as an alternative to litigation. Knowing your goals in advance of and during mediation will allow you to communicate more effectively.
- Identify Points of Common Interests, Including Areas of Potential Compromise
Mediation is non-adversarial, which means parties at a mediation control the outcome while litigation cedes control to a decision maker. At mediation, a neutral third party helps the parties negotiate toward an agreeable outcome, one in which both parties compromise. To reach an agreement, take time to identify potential points of common interest with other parties and areas for compromise as well as areas where you are unwilling to compromise.
- Seek Professional Guidance and Support from a Mediation Attorney
Mediation may be voluntary or mandated by a Court order or administrative order. Having the right professional on your side can help you resolve disputes more efficiently. A skilled attorney can advocate for you and assist in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of disputed issues. An attorney will help articulate your goals and interests and provide legal advice throughout the mediation process including reduction of the agreement to a writing signed by the parties. If mediation is not a good fit for your particular contract dispute, an attorney can advise you accordingly and take the next steps to protect your rights and interests.
Schedule a Confidential Contract Dispute Consultation With our Attorneys
At Anderson Jones, PLLC, our experienced business mediation lawyers represent clients with dedication, zeal, and determination. If you have any questions about the mediation of a contract dispute, we offer answers, we can help, and we will be there with you every step of the way.
Contact us today to arrange your confidential consultation. With a law office in Raleigh, we are well-positioned to provide contract mediation services throughout the region.