To build a house, it often feels like it takes a village. Different people with different skills are needed to complete specialized tasks in a timely manner. Unfortunately, disagreements are almost inevitable when these knowledgeable people work under pressure.
As a result of those disagreements, the work could suffer and both parties could end up wasting time and resources on unnecessary litigation efforts to resolve conflicts. Mediators can offer a friendlier, faster more cost-effective option to resolve disputes. This could benefit the contractor, the employee, and their legal representation.
Who are mediators?
Mediators are professionals with legal experience who often also have experience in another career field, such as construction. They are a hired neutral third party with no interest in the outcome of the resolution and have certified training in conflict resolution. They do not do the following:
- Give personal suggestions
- Make decisions with legal authority
- Delay existing legal proceedings
Before a mediating session, both parties can have access to the mediator's professional profile. Both parties are informed that they may walk away from mediation at any time and begin a legal proceeding but if they reach a conclusion they agree to abide by the settlements decided upon at the end of the meetings.
Should you hire an attorney or a mediator?
Like specialized contractors, it is important to hire the right legal professional for the job. If you have legal representation, they may even recommend hiring a mediator before pursuing litigation. There are several benefits to attempting mediation before suing another party.
- Builds credibility: It demonstrates to the court that you made every attempt possible to resolve the dispute before litigation.
- Familiarity: Mediators are usually experienced in another career field. For example, they could be familiar with the vocabulary, common practices and construction process from the point of view of both the employer and contractor.
- Non-competition: Your mediator cannot later represent you in a legal case and do not threaten your current legal representative. They cannot "side" with one party or the other after a failed mediation attempt and act as an attorney in a later case.
If mediation does not resolve your dispute, you will be able to present information to an attorney about what happened during the mediation and you will likely be able to identify the root of the disagreement between the parties. You may have already moved past the first wave of emotion related to your dispute and are able to address the dispute with a clearer head.
It is natural to disagree on project details, but it is important that your disagreement does not unnecessarily delay the project at hand. It is better to find a neutral third party to resolve the dispute than to see the project unfinished.