Instead of running to court, rather opt for mediation

HAVE you ever been in the unfortunate position of receiving a communication from an attorney, informing you that someone has lodged a complaint against you?

It could be something like:

• your tree has eventually fallen onto your neighbour’s wall, after he has repeatedly asked you to cut it down

• someone is suing you for defamation

• you made a racial slur

• unsatisfied clients after you have done work for them.

One’s initial reaction is usually utter shock and disbelief: “How dare he?” Then denial: “It just can’t be!” And then anger: “I’ll show so and so!” And then get a lawyer.

And then it all starts costing money, time and deep emotional upheaval.

A more satisfactory way of dealing with the issue is to find a mediator. Mediation is a much cheaper option and can occur with much less emotional damage.

The mediator will contact the complainant and set up a meeting for the two of you.

Mediators are trained to sit the two parties down and you both can say exactly how you feel about your damage, hurts and frustrations.

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The mediator then takes both parties aside separately, and in complete confidentiality you can state your fears, hopes and any possible solution you might have to the problem.

Should the mediation fail, not a single word that was said may ever be repeated in the courtroom. A judge will frown very deeply on any of the party that repeats anything that was admitted during mediation and it will not to be used in the court case.

The mediator will gently guide the two parties, together and separately, to eventually reach an agreement that is mutually satisfactory to both.

The beauty of mediation is that if both parties are serious about a solution, an agreement can often be reached in a few hours.

It eliminates the time consumed by a court case, the emotional fear and anxiety that goes hand in hand with not knowing the outcome of the court case, and often the breakdown of relationships, after one party wins in court and the other one loses.

Mediation is often done in the presence of your lawyer. But then he must be paid for his services separately from the mediator’s. The fees of mediators are very fair and the cost is usually equally shared between the two parties and payable directly after the agreement has been settled.

The mediator sets up a contract to be signed at the end of the meeting and the contract is legally binding.

There are many other forms of mediation. The one you might know is the CCMA. That is the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. It is freely available to aggrieved parties but is mostly labour related.

Another form of mediation that works very well is when there is a divorce and the mediator helps the parents to mediate a resolution that is as fair as possible to both parties.

Mediation is fast becoming the tool to handle disputes and transforming conflicts into mutually satisfactory agreements, because of crowded courts and inflated cost of claims.

Where to find a mediator:

Kempton Express

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