In the South African legal system, the courts can be relatively busy and crowded with matters, resulting in long wait times to have matters heard. Fortunately, there are alternatives, namely mediation and arbitration. In this article, I will write mainly about mediation, the benefits and when mediation would be recommended.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a way of settling a matter, out of a formal court, in the presence of a mediator, being a neutral third party whose aim is to fairly provide each party the opportunity to have their say in attempting to come to a settlement or compromise.
When to Mediate?
Mediation is fairly popular in situations involving family law matters such as divorce, child custody, domestic relation matters and other related matters. It is usually important in these matters, especially those involving children to maintain a good relationship due to continuing interests after the finalisation of the matter at hand. The procedure in standard court litigation can usually place unnecessary friction on a relationship as the proceedings are structured in such a way that it is extremely adversarial.
It is not to say that mediation cannot be utilised in other circumstances, the above is merely an example or where it may be popular. Mediation may be a worthwhile exercise in any matter where potential settlement is an option or where the parties only require a neutral third party to assist in having both sides of the story told.
Outcome of Mediation
One of the major reasons parties may not chose to mediate is if there is no chance of settling a matter or where previous attempts to settle have been futile.
A mediator does not make decisions on behalf of the parties, the mediator merely facilitates a meeting of the parties and provides a platform to try to settle a matter. Mediator may provide feedback and opinions but the mediator’s goal is to remain neutral and attempt to assist the parties in coming to their own compromise.
If parties require an out-of-court platform wherein a third party is to make an informed judgement on a matter, arbitration would be better suited.
At the completion of mediation, should it be successful, it is still recommended that the parties approach a court to simply make the mediation decision an order of court.
Should the above sound like a possible solution to a problem you may have, feel free to give us a call and we will assist with any arrangements which need to be made regarding mediation. We have professional staff who can assist in mediation proceedings and act as a mediator should mediation be a potential solution to finalising your matter.