DISPUTES SHOULD be settled more through mediation than trial, arbitration and legal representation, a report released by the Law Society of NSW has suggested.
Far greater satisfaction for both parties can be reached through mediation, and this has been felt intuitively by the Society, according to Bridget Sordo, Manager of Dispute Resolution with the Law Society.
The report, Evaluating Mediation — New South Wales Settlement Scheme 2000, appeared to support this view, she said.
“We have felt that moving disputes away from the formality and adversarial nature of the courtroom would make the experience less daunting for participants. Now we have the figures that prove it.”
Participants in the research said that during mediation the process was fair, they had control over the process and outcome and there was enough time to present information.
The aim should not just be to take the acrimony out of the process, Sordo said. Participants should be satisfied that the process was fair.
Although the disputes which went to mediation included more complex and older cases, they still produced significantly more positive perceptions. This was in spite of the fact that often parties decline mediation because lawyers perceive that very complex cases are unsuitable for it.
The research conducted for the report revealed that mediation may offer considerable benefits and that lawyers should con-sider mediation more favourably, even in “difficult” cases, the Law Society said.
As well, early referral to mediation may reduce litigation costs, the report stated.