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International Commercial Mediation

Page 161



The actual mediation can consume as little as a few hours in simple disputes or in complex matters can take place over many sessions and consume a lengthy period of time. As an example, if the dispute deals with a breach of contract issue where the total damages are £30,000 and the defendant has already offered £10,000 prior to mediation then the matter will be resolved in a short time. The other type of matter would be an international commercial dispute where there are several parties such as the original claimant who entered into a contract for the supply of a product which was being assembled in two other countries and involves several subcontractors, each of whom is also involved in cross claims against each of the other parties. In this kind of dispute the mediator will first want to have global discussion of what the claims are and who is alleged to have caused what particular problems and then to have separate sessions with key players in the hope of resolving individual aspects of the dispute and finally to have it down to a manageable size for ultimate resolution by just say two to three parties. This could take a few months to reach the reduced size for the ultimate conclusive mediation session. In cases such as this i.e. complex, with large sums of money at stake or multi-sided cases, it is usually also unrealistic or inadvisable to keep all the parties together for the entire time that the mediation is being conducted. Having regular joint sessions can help keep the “mediation momentum” moving and promotes settlement.