Commercial Mediation Services

Resolving commercial disputes without resorting to litigation can be beneficial to everyone involved. Commercial dispute mediation is often more effective than going to court and is less demanding on the resources of the business or individual directors, owners and managers.

Saunders Law is a partner-led, niche litigation and dispute resolution practice based in Central London. We specialise in complex and high value dispute resolution for businesses and professional individuals, with many of our clients’ disputes exceeding £100,000 in value.

We offer specialist commercial mediation advice for our clients as part of the litigation processes, helping them amicably and cost-effectively resolve disputes with the aim of avoiding a full trial.

Our team of highly skilled litigators are independently recognised for their advocacy skills and ability to negotiate positive settlements for our clients. Our expertise covers a wide range of areas, including high-value international commercial litigation, international arbitration, commercial law, regulatory law, professional discipline, high-value debt recovery and media and privacy law.

Our clients range from individuals such as sole traders, entrepreneurs and investors, to start-ups and small to medium enterprises, to large regional, national and international corporations. Find out more about our clients here.

Speak to our commercial mediation experts in London

For expert assistance resolving a commercial or civil dispute, contact Saunders Law for a free, no obligation initial discussion about our services and how we can help.

Call us on 020 7315 4815 or make an enquiry online.

Specialist commercial mediation services

Our commercial litigation solicitors always seek to help clients resolve disputes in the most amicable and commercially-realistic way. This often involves taking steps to settle the dispute before it escalates to court litigation which tends to be costly and disruptive for businesses.

In any event, courts will expect parties to seek to resolve disputes before commencing legal proceedings, using methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) where appropriate. This is written into the civil Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct and Protocols and parties can be penalised for skipping this stage or failing to take meaningful steps to resolve the dispute out-of-court. This means that considering mediation, at all stages of litigation, is essential.

ADR can cover any method of resolving a dispute out-of-court, including informal ‘without prejudice’ negotiations and procedures such as arbitration and mediation.

Mediation is a popular form of ADR with a strong track record of success. It allows parties to resolve disputes between themselves while benefitting from the support and guidance of a neutral expert (the mediator).

We have supported clients through mediation to resolve a wide range of disputes, including:

Benefits of commercial mediation

  • Lower cost – court litigation, particularly complex and high value multi-track claims, can become astonishingly expensive even if the case does not proceed to full trial. Mediation tends to be lower cost and places less financial pressure on the parties.
  • Speedier resolutions – mediation tends to be flexible, allowing parties to arrange sessions at their convenience rather than waiting for court hearings to be scheduled. Parties can also avoid the deadlines and time-consuming processes of set civil litigation procedures.
  • Privacy – mediation tends to be private and confidential, allowing parties to openly discuss the issues at hand without reputational consequences. If ADR is unsuccessful, in the vast majority of cases, matters discussed during mediation also cannot be raised during court proceedings.
  • Preserving vital business relationships – while court litigation tends to be naturally adversarial, mediation can help parties resolve disputes without unnecessary conflict. The mediator takes a neutral role which defuses the ‘us versus them’ mentality that can often arise in commercial disputes. As such, mediation is a good choice for parties hoping to salvage valuable relationships.
  • Collaborative resolutions – mediation encourages parties to come to mutual agreement about the issues at hand. Unlike a judge or arbitrator, the mediator’s role is not to make a decision or even take sides, but to facilitate positive negotiation and voluntary agreement.
  • No obligation to mediate – commercial mediation is voluntary unless the parties made a prior agreement to mediate (see mediation clauses in commercial contracts below). So, parties usually do not have to commit to mediation unless it is right in the circumstances.
  • Mediation does not require parties to waive their rights to litigate should ADR be unsuccessful.

Commercial mediation procedure

Mediators are qualified professionals who may be appointed by the parties to a dispute, usually with the support of their respective lawyers.

Although the mediation process can be varied to suit the needs of the parties, a common format tends to be followed:

  • The parties will attend a first meeting with the mediator and lawyers. They do not technically have to be legally represented, but it common and advisable for lawyers to attend to help their client put forward their case and advise on any proposed resolutions.
  • Following the initial session, the parties will usually retire to separate rooms and the mediator will move between the parties to facilitate negotiation, put forward offers and generally help the parties reach an agreement. Their role is not to provide legal advice or make a judgment – the final settlement (if one is reached) is ultimately down to the parties.
  • If the parties are able to reach an agreement, they will reconvene to discuss the exact terms and the final settlement will be recorded in writing as a legally binding contract.
  • The mediation process usually lasts a day but may continue beyond the scheduled time if an agreement is difficult to reach. If it becomes clear that mediation has been unsuccessful, one party may serve notice to terminate upon the other.

Mediation clauses in commercial contracts

It is common practice nowadays for parties to insert an Alternative Dispute Resolution clause in their commercial contracts. Usually this clause will require that parties attempt ADR (such as mediation) before taking court action or entering into binding arbitration.

The aim of such clauses is to save time and expense, as well as to help parties preserve the commercial relationship where possible.

Reviewing the commercial contracts between the parties is essential when considering litigation. Beyond the court’s own powers to require the parties to consider ADR, previous case law shows that the courts can and will allow parties to enforce dispute resolution clauses in commercial contracts.

The consequences of being in breach could include the proceedings being stayed until the ADR clause has been complied with and the party in breach could be held responsible for wasted costs.

Our litigation solicitors can advise on the construction and interpretation of mediation clauses in commercial contracts, including advising on enforceability and defending contractual claims.

Enforcing mediation settlement agreements

Mediation settlement agreements create a contractual relationship between the parties and may therefore be enforced as a contract.

What if commercial mediation is unsuccessful?

Commercial mediation has a strong track record of success. Parties have the flexibility to settle and on what terms. Confidentiality of proceedings gives the parties further freedom to discuss creative settlement options and may encourage them to compromise. However, it is not a silver bullet for every dispute.

Mediation can fail for all kinds of reasons, from lack of trust between the parties to fundamental disagreement about the interpretation of certain contractual terms. In such cases, court proceedings or binding arbitration may be the more appropriate option.

In many cases, mediation will not have been futile. It may help the parties narrow the issues at hand, saving time and costs, and the parties may even be able to return to mediation after a period of reflection.

For information about the litigation process after ADR, read our comprehensive Litigation Guide.

Why Saunders Law is the smart choice for commercial dispute resolution

Over 40 years’ experience

Our partner-led team of specialist dispute resolution lawyers have over 40 years of knowledge and experience to utilise when dealing with all types of commercial and civil dispute.

We offer pragmatic, commercially-focused advice based on previous experience of what works.

Independently recognised expertise

We have been independently recognised for our market-leading expertise in commercial litigation and dispute resolution with strong rankings in prestigious client guides the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.

Commercially intelligent approach to dispute resolution

We take the time to familiarise ourselves with our clients’ individual circumstances, priorities, goals and risk concerns. Our strategy is always guided by the commercial considerations at play, and we have a strong understanding of the markets our clients operate in across a wide range of sectors.

Reputation management

Our team have considerable experience handling high profile and highly sensitive claims, such as defamation claims, media law issues and professional discipline cases. We take steps to help individuals and businesses protect their professional reputation. Business mediation is one way parties can seek to keep disputes private, keeping the details of the dispute and the outcome away from critical eyes.

Clear, flexible pricing

We are upfront about our fees, including our costs for supporting businesses through commercial mediation and the mediator’s fees. We can offer flexible tailored funding arrangements and have excellent relationships with third party litigators.

Speak to our dispute resolution solicitors in London about commercial mediation

For expert assistance resolving a commercial or civil dispute, contact Saunders Law for a free, no obligation initial discussion about our services and how we can help.

Call us on 020 7632 4300 or make an enquiry online.