Disputes are inevitable as long as human interactions continue to exist. Physical human interaction and constructions have reduced since the outbreak of the coronavirus. Yet, minimal industrial relations may still generate some disputes.
Courts are temporarily closed to non-essential cases. As a result, parties may have to wait till lockdown is lifted to have their construction disputes resolved through litigation. But some disputes just cannot wait. This is why parties may resort to alternative dispute resolution measures.
Mediation is one of the most popular alternative dispute resolution methods. It does not involve courts and involves an informal arrangement. It is a private dispute resolution process unlike litigation where public trials are mandatory. It involves a neutral party who facilitates a settlement between disputant parties.
General Benefits of Mediation
Mediation can be especially in business relationships, including construction disputes. Some of the general benefits of mediation include
- Confidentiality: Construction business involves a great deal of business reputation. Public trials may affect the reputation of disputing parties. Mediation is a safer and effective alternative as negotiations and meetings held in private.
- Cost-effectiveness: Mediation is a cost-effective dispute resolution method. Litigation and Arbitration are relatively costlier. Remote mediation even offers more reduction in associated costs such as travel costs.
- Voluntariness: There is no compulsion to take part in a mediation. This makes it a more suitable dispute resolution measure compared to litigation. Aside from this, parties have a degree of control over the process and the outcome of the mediation. They can choose their desired neutral facilitator.
- It saves time: Construction projects are typically time-sensitive. It would be distasteful to have a dispute slow down the project. A delay could affect the value of the project. Mediation offers a less time-consuming approach to dispute resolution. Disputes referred to mediation are settled in a matter of days compared to litigation which may take years.
- Preservation of Business Relationship: Mediation preserves the pre-existing relationship between parties by facilitating a mutually satisfactory outcome. It tends to result in Yes-Yes outcomes unlike courts where the blame may be apportioned.
Mediating Construction Disputes during COVID-19 Lockdown
The suitability of mediation for construction disputes lies in its time saving and cost-effective nature. Construction disputes stem mostly from contracts. For the effective resolution of disputes arising the help of a professional may be needed for evaluation of facts and contracts.
The possibility of having a physical mediation at this present time is very slim. This is due to the restrictions on movement across several US states. Thankfully, there is no rule mandating a physical mediation for construction disputes. Thus, parties may have to adopt remote mediation procedures while the lockdown subsists.
Remote mediation involves the adoption of virtual hearings for the dispute resolution process. This may involve the use of teleconferencing technology such as Zoom and Google Meet. It is more suitable for its obvious advantages. This includes low associated cost, timeliness, work-ability on short notice, confidentiality, etc.
In a remote mediation, the neutral facilitator considers any difficulties any of the parties may be experiencing. A practice run is advisable to iron out any existing limitations. It also helps to foster confidence in the mediation process.
The success of mediation depends on the willingness of parties to identify facts and suitable resolutions. The confidence of the parties in the mediator also plays a great role in the success. Possible limitations include cyber-security concerns, Internet speed, and availability.
Speak to a professional today
You should reach out to a qualified mediator for further clarification on the process. You may contact us to understand how mediation can provide benefits in your situation and how to proceed.