E-dispute resolution: tips and pitfalls
Lux Mediation, London
Online or e-dispute resolution has long been a beneficial option for resolving business disagreements, even before the spread of Covid-19. With the current disruption and bans on travel and meetings in many countries, using remote mediation means that companies still have a means of solving problems and moving their businesses on. The positive experience of e-dispute resolution is such that it is likely to remain long after the pandemic has gone.
Online mediation can be a quicker process than holding face-to-face meetings. Taking advantage of tech tools to exchange and organise documentation will also help keep the case manageable.
It will help if you can identify the main areas of disagreement and keep your supporting evidence as concise as possible.
Approach the process with an open mind and try to be civil and courteous. One of the advantages of alternative dispute resolution over a court case is the possibility that the parties may be able to rebuild their relationship and continue doing business together if it is mutually beneficial.
Before starting the process, see if you can identify exactly what you want to achieve and how far you are prepared to negotiate. This will help reduce the time taken once the mediator becomes involved.
Allow the mediator to guide the process and trust that they will do their best to facilitate an acceptable solution for all involved. If you have appointed someone with experience, you can be confident that they will control the situation, keep stress levels to a minimum and let both parties have their say before helping everyone involved reach an understanding.
Go into the process prepared to give as well as take. Try and bear in mind the bigger picture that mediation is far quicker and exponentially cheaper than a protracted court case. Bring a positive attitude and take advantage of the opportunity to resolve the disagreement and move on.
A mediator will normally assess body language and other indicators of attitude and openness to negotiation when conducting a face-to-face meeting. When meetings take place via video link, this becomes more difficult, so it is important to engage someone who is experienced in understanding other cues. This could include asking questions that require more lengthy replies, and taking into account response times, pauses and tone of voice.
It may be harder for parties to trust the confidentiality of online resolution when an electronic record of the evidence and discussions is created. It is also important that everyone in the room who can hear the conversations has signed the mediation agreement. By using an experienced and trusted firm, there is likely to be more reassurance that the information will remain confidential and not be referred to outside of the dispute resolution process.