The Value of Mediation in Business Disputes


Mediation of business disputes is a better alternative than expensive litigation.

Mediation is a voluntary process in which two or more parties involved in a dispute work with an impartial party, the mediator, to generate their own solution to settling a conflict.

As an alternative to business litigation, mediation of business disputes is usually less expensive and less time-consuming, leaves control in the hands of the parties rather than the court system and allows the parties to determine their own solutions. Mediation also provides the opportunity to resolve a dispute in a non-adversarial way so that valuable business relationships may continue.

Types of business disputes that can be successfully mediation include:

Mediators take an active role in resolving business disputes. They assist the parties to implement an effective process, to clearly identify their interests and goals, and to develop necessary information to be shared. They facilitate the discussions and give feedback to the business parties on the legal and factual issues from a neutral perspective.  Mediators should view each mediation among businesses as unique and approach mediation as a fluid process in which decisions about the best ways to help the parties are made as the mediation unfolds.

In business mediation, a professionally trained mediator meets with the business parties and guides them in working out their own mutually agreeable solutions.

The following are some of the key qualities of the mediation process:

Confidential – Mediation is confidential and governed by statutes and court rules that protect the confidentiality.  Mediation discussions are generally not admissible in any court proceeding, except for a finalized and signed mediated agreement. 

Collaborative – As no participant in mediation can impose anything on anyone, everyone is motivated to work together to solve the issues.

Controlled – Each party has complete decision-making power.  Nothing can be imposed on anyone without their agreement.

Informed – The mediation process offers a full opportunity to obtain information about the other party’s position. 

 Voluntary – The parties can leave at any time for any reason, or no reason.

Impartial, Neutral, Balanced and Safe – The mediator will assist each mediating party and cannot favor the interests of any one party over another, nor should the mediator favor a particular result in the mediation.  The mediator’s role is to ensure that parties reach agreements in a voluntarily and informed manner, and not as a result of coercion or intimidation.

About the Author: Jim Christopherson is an active mediator, arbitrator, and practicing attorney. He has been a volunteer mediator for the Conflict Resolution Service for more than 12 years, where he serves on the Board of Directors and the Quality Assurance Committee.

Jim Christopherson also serves as a mediator for several circuit courts in the State of Michigan, FINRA, the American Arbitration Association, the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, the American Health Lawyers Association and several other organizations. In both 2011 and 2012 he was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America in the practice areas of Arbitration and Mediation.  He can be reached at 231-929-0500 or Christopherson@ddc-law.com