Friday 20 November 2020 5:29 pm

Dispute getting you down?

There are many services provided for small to medium sized businesses that do not get enough credit for their success and efficiency.

Mediation is most certainly one of them. For those unfamiliar with the term “Mediation”, picture two or more parties to a commercial, or civil dispute seeking an alternative to the time consuming, extortionately expensive and stressful legal system. Mediation consists of one mediator using logical reasoning to seek the root of the issue and enable cross-party understanding to reach a settlement agreement. Mediators are accredited professionals, usually with a diverse commercial background including litigation experience, meaning that, although they are not there to provide legal advice, they can lead their clients to the most cost and time-efficient path to resolving their dispute. They do so whilst avoiding the uncertainties of the legal system, circumventing the involvement of solicitors,

barristers, filing fees, and intrusive discovery processes.    

The statistics are particularly difficult to ignore, with participants in mediation (ignoring the high-profile cases) since its UK introduction saving £28.5bn in litigation fees (up from £22.6bn in 2016 as per “The 2018 Eighth CEDR Mediation Audit”). Then there is the success rate. A “Success” or “Settlement Rate” of 80% has been reported as a general average, however there are certain esteemed mediators who sport a settlement record as phenomenal as 95%. Claire Kean, Panel Director and Mediator at The Society of Mediators is one of those mediating superstars alongside her colleagues at the society who are all seasoned professionals accredited by the UK Civil and Commercial Mediation council.

It is clear to all that society, both socially and economically is in a COVID19 induced limbo, meaning there is a disastrous backlog of commercial disputes in the UK courts that are, due to the pandemic, even more uncertain than usual. Not only does Mediation offer a solution to these disputes, but also a cost-efficient, and rapid one. Many disputes subject to the mediation process are resolved within one day, at a fraction of the cost of court proceedings, and even pre-action conduct depending on your choice of solicitor.

The question you are probably asking yourself is, why have I not heard of Mediation before? The answer is quite simple. The litigation market in the UK is considerable. The only incentive for law firms to suggest mediation is if they have their own mediation department with which to offer their services, or in order to procedurally ‘box tick’ to ensure in their client is successful at trial, is granted their legal fees additionally to damages. Therefore, involving solicitors within the mediation session, whilst allowed, is not so desirable. Why should solicitors want to see it a success? After all, such a successful settlement orientated process could dent the legal services industry in a huge way.

Avoid litigation, resolve your commercial dispute efficiently.

Business with 1-50 employees in UK write off £40bn every year because of unsettled legal disputes (according to Legal Services Board UK Research). The same time litigation financing itself surpassed over 1 billion dollars raised just this year. Now the litigation financing is devoted to large claims, like class action lawsuits, massive patent infringement cases and is completely missing to serve the struggling segment of SMEs.

iCEIBA which was established in 2019 offers a claim recovery platform, who with the assistance of a diverse range of legal and alternative dispute resolution focused partners look to resolve civil and commercial disputes with litigation being harnessed as a last resort option. The intention is to revolutionise the claim recovery market by providing a versatile service that is not solely dependent on, although inclusive of, litigation financing. In the UK in 2017, there were 12,000 commercial mediations (excluding small claims mediations) performed, being an increase of 20% on 2016. The estimated value of commercial claims mediated was £11.5 billion. The overall success rate of mediation remains high with an aggregate settlement rate of 89% (86% in 2016) – 74% reaching a settlement on the day and 15% shortly after mediation (The 2018 Eighth CEDR Mediation Audit).

The claim recovery platform looks to bridge the gap between the tedious and expensive litigation process and debt collection agency by using technology that involves historical legal precedent analysis, behavioural economics and data science to assist with the strategic planning necessary to successfully navigate a claim to the point of settlement, whilst using the minimum in terms of resources required i.e. time, money, and stress.

Next time your company, or even an affiliate’s organization becomes party to a dispute that may involve disputed payments, breach of a contract, breach of intellectual property, or even falling foul to professional negligence, consider using alternative route to start litigation.

Mediation might be an alternative resolution process for your problem, or you can even destress the entire situation by passing the ball to the iCEIBA claim recovery platform.

Jago Penrose, Director of Commercial Operations iCEIBA

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