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Mediation can be a good option for settling an Oregon business dispute

Not every commercial dispute has to end up in the courtroom.

When a business or business owner faces a conflict with another business, a customer, supplier, contractor, employee or other party, they may be concerned about the costs of potential litigation. But there are alternate dispute resolution (ADR) methods outside of the courtroom – and mediation is a strong contender for settling a dispute without the cost, time and effort of a trial.

In commercial mediation, the parties retain a professional, neutral mediator acceptable to both parties. Mediators have special training in resolving disputes, communicating and working through impasses.

The mediator is often a lawyer but may have other helpful expertise. The mediation process may vary, but normally the mediator alternates spending time alone with each party, hearing each side and making suggestions for resolving issues. Each party may consult with their own attorney at any time for guidance and advice. The goal is to break through disagreements and compromise on the issues to get to a negotiated settlement agreement.

Some of the main advantages of mediation include:

  • Privacy: The mediation proceedings are confidential and not as public as a trial. This can protect the reputation of the business as well as keep business information from public consumption and from competitors.
  • Predictability: A mediated settlement represents a compromise between the parties with each normally getting some of what they want, whereas if the matter went to trial, there is no guaranty of what the outcome might be before the judge or jury. Sometimes a party may prefer taking some of what they want in a compromise rather than risk getting nothing in court.
  • Cost: Mediation can be far less costly than a court trial, helping the bottom line.
  • Creativity: With the help of the mediator, the parties may come up with a settlement containing creative provisions and reflecting problem solving that probably would not have been part of a court judgment.
  • Time: A court trial can be drawn out for months, while mediation is likely to go much faster and the parties oversee the mediation schedule, not the court. This leaves more time for the business.
  • Insight: An experienced mediator may bring new insights to the dispute that influence the negotiation in a positive way.
  • Relationship preservation: Many business disputes are with people or other companies important to success like suppliers, distributors, contractors and others. Mediation is more likely to prevent breakdown of those relationships if ongoing commercial interaction or collaboration is desired.

A lawyer can discuss the pros and cons of mediation (or other dispute resolution methods) in any given commercial dispute.

Attorney George Mead of The Mead Law Firm in Lake Oswego, Oregon, represents businesses and business owners in resolving disputes through mediation, arbitration and litigation in the Portland area, in the Willamette Valley and throughout the Northwest,

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