Half Day Mediations – Are They Better Than Full Day Mediations?

Commercial mediation - how long can it take?
Commercial mediation – how long can it take?

When it comes to beginning a mediation process there are many factors to consider. The first is selecting the right mediator (or mediators) for the task. Then you may consider which style of mediation you will use:- Will you opt for a single mediator or a co-mediation approach? Where will the mediation be held? Then you need to consider the time required / available for the mediation.

In most cases, you may assume that a full day mediation is required. Successful mediations do usually take a full day. However, in some cases, half day mediations can be just as effective.

Why choose half day mediations?

  • There is a case for saying that you should know by lunchtime if it is going to settle. Mediation in some cases is a stage before a court process. An attempt to see if court can be avoided. But if it is clear by lunchtime that it is not going to settle and it will have to go to court then some will argue that there is no point wasting any more time and money.
  • It concentrates the parties’ minds to start negotiating as early as possible. If disputes have come as far as mediation then usually both parties are already well convinced that they are ‘right’. But in order for mediation to work, both (or all) parties need to work together to find a solution. A shorter time frame can encourage sides to offer solutions earlier, in order to come to a deal sooner.
  • It is cheaper. Half Day Mediations save both money and time. Why pay for a Full Day Mediation if you don’t need to?

You can always extend into the afternoon, with plenty of the day to spare. You might be almost at an agreement, just as the half day comes to an end. Being able to run over by an hour or so can ensure you have time to finalise all the details and complete an agreement. Yet you can still save versus the cost of a full day mediation.

Why Choose a full day mediation?

A half day mediation approach isn’t suitable in all cases. Choosing a full day mediation could be the best approach for the following reasons:

  • It is not helpful to rush the process. Mediation is a challenging time and it takes as long as it takes – (so even a whole day may not be enough). Emotions can run high and adding time pressure into that mix can only serve to worsen the situation.
  • Settlements are often reached late in the afternoon – sometimes by ‘attrition’. During the day issues are discussed: – options are reviewed. Over time, people feel that they have ‘had their say’ but also come to realise that compromise is the only way forwards. A full day mediation allows you that time for all parties to explore the issues and come to a solution.
  • It may be a false economy to think that half a day will be sufficient. If the mediation does go on into the afternoon, overtime will usually be chargeable. This may end up bringing the cost over the fixed daily rate.
  • With a full day allocated people commit to being there all day and don’t make other arrangements. If you over-run a Half Day Mediation and people have other commitments for the afternoon you will have to face reconvening at another time, so lengthening the process.

Whether half day or full day, the right mediation session can help the parties come to an acceptable solution, and expensive, time-consuming and stressful court proceedings are avoided.

Luke Harrison, lead Litigation & Dispute Resolution Partner at Debenhams Ottaway LLP and Vice Chairman of the Commercial Litigation Association was asked for his views of the length of the mediation day. He said:-

“The length of the mediation day in my experience is not directly proportionate to the successful outcome of mediation. The key to a successful mediation is planning. I’d rather have a couple of conference calls with the mediator and other side following an early exchange of position papers and a half day mediation than a full day mediation where the parties are less well prepared. This is because the mediation really should be used to bridge the gap that other forms of ADR have failed to do and it might sound obvious but you really need to know what that gap is. It is often the case that for much of the mediation day the parties are not at all clear on this so if you can flush this out earlier there is a much better prospect of success at mediation and a half day is generally all the parties will need to save in the most complex of cases.”

To find out more about my mediation services please call 07776 141 717, email [email protected] or check out my website at www.rogerlevittmediation.co.uk. As an experienced property solicitor of over 33 years I am fully versed in the legal framework of property and business disputes, and passionate that mediation provides a fresh approach, with a 75% success rate.

Debenhams Ottaway Solicitors

Blog originally published here.

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