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Most lawyers understand that it can be in the best interests of a client to resolve a dispute outside of court. Dispute resolution is a process through which disputing parties are able to work through the issues facing them, with the assistance of legal counsel and independent advisors. Settling a dispute outside of court saves time and money.

Mediation is probably the most common process involved in formal dispute resolution. It is a confidential process in which a neutral and independent mediator conducts a discussion and decision-making process between the parties with the intention of obtaining a resolution.

Courts and other legal bodies look favourable upon dispute resolution, as it frees up the legal system for matters that cannot be resolved outside of court. In fact, a court may even order that disputing parties attempt mediation before the case will be heard.

How Does Mediation Work?

Disputing parties come together in a confidential and private setting, along with a trained and nationally accredited mediator who is completely independent from either party. The parties may bring legal counsel to the mediation.

During mediation, the parties will inform the mediator of the nature of the dispute, as well as of each party’s interests and objectives. The mediator will consider the information presented and use it to steer the parties towards a mutually beneficial outcome.

Mediators are unable to impose decisions on disputing parties. Instead, they act as skilled negotiators who assist the parties in exploring the issues facing them.

Mediation Clauses in Contracts

A well-drafted contract may include a mediation clause, which, anticipating a possible dispute, orders the parties to attempt mediation in order to resolve the dispute before commencing legal proceedings.

Fees Associated with Mediation

The costs of mediation services are often agreed to be shared equally by both parties.

Helpful links:

Magistrates Court of Victoria

County Court of Victoria

The Supreme Court of Victoria

Federal Court of Australia