Commercial mediation covers a depth and breadth of dispute resolution work that defies a comprehensive definition. The parties to a commercial mediation may be individuals, business owners, banks, contractors, insurance companies, trust companies, real estate owners, governmental bodies, or any combination thereof. The cases which can be submitted to commercial mediation include such things as first-party insurance claims, breaches of contract, business torts, eminent domain, mortgage foreclosures, and real property boundary disputes. Cases of this type are often difficult and expensive to litigate. Commercial mediation can save litigants thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expense, as well as months or years of time, thus allowing the parties to resolve their dispute quickly and efficiently.
The goal of most clients is to achieve the best solution to their problem, not to have the best trial.
Business Partners sometimes look to mediation to help resolve disagreements. Most potential business partners seem to appreciate that while they may not be experiencing any overt conflict, they don’t know what they don’t know. They would rather mediate sooner, when they’re getting along well, than later when they run into problems. They also seem to recognize that engaging in conversations about personalities, compensation, or the division of equity, for example, may stretch their communication and negotiation skills beyond their comfort zone. Many are eager to have a third-party who knows the ins and outs of partnership assist them in their negotiations.
Business partners who enter the legal system to resolve their differences are rarely happy with the process. A court’s range of remedies in a “business divorce” is generally limited to things like receivership, forced sale, dissolution, forensic accounting and award of damages. The judge has little flexibility to impose solutions such as buyouts over time or internal re-arrangements that keep the business intact. Family businesses have an extra layer of complexity, since legal remedies are not tailored to addressing the roots and consequences of troubling family dynamics. Also, resolution can become difficult once partners get into adversarial lawsuit mode even if they have worked together cooperatively in the past.