Mediator Paul Johnson saves commercial parties over £1m in costs in just three days

July 16, 2020

By Paul Johnson

Some lawyers feel that “remote” mediations are a radical departure from “face to face mediations”. Yes, remote mediations are different to “face to face” mediations but the gulf between mediating “online” or in person” is not substantive.

The proper application of confidentiality together with the flexible use of the mediation process (“remote” or “face to face”) will always be the key drivers in achieving a mediated solution.

Last week, on consecutive days, I successfully mediated 3 substantial commercial disputes using Zoom Pro:

  • Case 1 was a claim for losses (circa £1m) suffered by a haulage company following an accident which caused irreparable damage to a specialist trailer and the consequential loss of profits.
  • Case 2 concerned a claim by a planning and project management company for the recovery of outstanding fees (circa £650k) in connection with a £55m construction project.
  • Case 3 concerned two claims for losses (circa £3m) suffered by two companies who were unable to complete on property transactions because of an alleged failure on the part of the lender to provide funds for the said transactions.

The resolution of the above cases illustrated the following:

  • Commercial parties are used to meeting “remotely”. It is a routine part of their business and they like it.
  • Pre mediation Zoom conference calls with each party and their lawyers/experts are really useful. Similarly, the application of a strict timetable when conducting the mediation has been well received.
  • Of real importance is the need to constructively and respectfully address the issue of costs. Sometimes, a discussion about saving costs can be uncomfortable. But the commercial reality is that value of costs saved is a real measure for settlement.

Which brings us back to the settlement of the 3 cases I mediated last week. In total, the decision of the various parties to settle, has saved costs far in excess of £1m.

There are many excellent reasons for explaining why parties should mediate a dispute. However, few are as attractive a proposition than the cost of mediation V costs saved.