Mediation of Construction Disputes
Construction Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), ie alternative to Litigation (court proceedings), Arbitration and Adjudication. Ridgemont has considerable experience of ADR and Mediation in particular. Mediation has been on the rise for well over a decade now (the pandemic aside). In litigation the Court will consider and expect the parties to consider, before and throughout the litigation, whether they should be mediating their dispute and then do so bar good reason not to. If the parties don’t take that obligation seriously, the court may compel them or punish them through restricted costs recovery.
The key steps in a Mediation are: (i) the parties agree to mediate (ii) they appoint a Mediator (iii) they prepare Position Statements and a bundle of key documents for the Mediator to read (iv) the parties attend the Mediation, during which the Mediator helps them to look for a settlement that will end their dispute and (v) if successful, a settlement agreement is signed.
These are the main pros and cons of Mediation:
- Mediation is relatively cheap: preparation for and attendance at a Mediation will cost a tiny fraction of a party’s costs in Litigation or Arbitration, largely because Mediation involves a tiny fraction of the time taken in comparison. Mediation is even much cheaper than Adjudication, because parties rarely recover their costs in Adjudication even if they win. The parties split the Mediator’s fees equally between themselves.
- Mediation is relatively quick: a Mediation can be convened within weeks, similar to the lifetime of an Adjudication, but much quicker than the 1 year + that Litigation/Arbitration often take plus any appeal.
- Mediation helps preserve business relationships: as Mediation is consensual and bridge-building by nature, not adversarial and combative like the other resolution forums, it allows the parties to try to mend any damaged relationships
- Mediators are largely pretty good: our experience of Mediators is that they are usually more skilled technically and have better soft skills, than Adjudicators in particular, and so parties tend to be in more capable hands
- Mediations may lead to settlement: obvious really, but avoiding proceedings altogether via a Mediation or even just avoiding the trial, removes a lot of risk as to outcome for the parties.
- Mediation means you are in control: whereas the outcome of adjudication, arbitration or litigation is decided by a third party, you are in control of the outcome of a Mediation. Any settlement will only be achieved if you agree with the proposal. If you do not find what is on offer attractive, you can withdraw from the Mediation and revert to whatever proceedings are anticipated or ongoing.
- Mediation is voluntary and consensual: this is the flip side of item 3 above. A party cannot be compelled to mediate (save in Litigation where the court can effectively compel it) and it cannot be compelled to take a Mediation seriously or act reasonably during one if it does not wish to. A Mediator cannot police those things as that is not his/her role. Therefore if a party’s heart is not in it, sometimes a Mediation can be a waste of time.
We regularly resolve disputes by way of mediation, taking a commercial, hands-on approach to finding a settlement that is attractive to both parties. Many lawyers can be overly aggressive at mediation, which does not help reaching settlement and often leads to the counter party walking away (literally). Others focus too much on detailed facts or complex law. Mediation is not an environment for a “mini trial”, there is no Judge, therefore a different approach has to be taken, focusing on key issues and ultimately, the settlement figure.
Ridgemont’s team is made up of expert senior solicitors, all of whom previously worked in “Big Law” (i.e. the top 50 law firms in the UK).
We provide bespoke advice tailored to your needs. Our advice is commercial and pragmatic, enabling you to use it effectively to make business decisions.
We have an expert understanding of construction law. We can guide you through the maze of Arbitration.
We are user-friendly. Our lawyers speak in plain English, providing service levels akin to “Big Law”. We have built our processes to make onboarding as pain-free as possible. Our fee earner structure means that you have access to a partner-level solicitor at all times and they will always be on top of your matter.
We operate our business in an ethical way. That means we think about what the “right thing to do” is when making a business decision. As an example, we do not charge a default unit of time for incoming emails or letters as we think we ought to be paid for work done, not for merely receiving correspondence. We are also open and transparent on what we charge, meaning our clients never receive a surprising invoice.
We provide “Big Law” service levels and quality of advice, with expert senior solicitors providing commercial, pragmatic advice. Necessarily, that does not come cheap as we have to invest in great lawyers and everything they need to do their job. However, due to us having comparatively lower overheads to “Big Law” firms, we are able to charge less than they would for providing the same service levels and advice.
We are proactive in finding innovative ways to advise our clients in a cost proportionate way.
Who we act for?
We act for developers, contractors, sub-contractors, professionals and investors across a range of sectors from residential to retail.
Your journey with us
- Get in touch using the contact form below, calling us on 0203 909 9590 or emailing us at email@example.com
- We guarantee that we will be in touch with you the same day to listen to your needs and to explain how we can help and the likely cost.
- Assuming you wish to engage us, we will then onboard you as a client, which normally takes a matter of hours.
- From there, you will be assigned an experienced solicitor who will have conduct of your matter from cradle to grave and be available to speak to you and responsive to emails at every juncture.
You can learn more about our journey by watching these videos.
KEY CONTACT: Tim Seal
Head of Construction