The accumulated wealth of a family member that dies can often be in relative terms a substantial sum. Family members that do not receive from a will the sum that they consider that they should have the ability to place a caveat on the estate whilst the dispute is aired usually in correspondence between solicitors and may be thereafter in litigation through the courts.

Taking a dispute over an inheritance through the courts have the classic problems of litigation. These are:

  1. There is only one winner and one loser. Usually the winner is paid his legal fees (or a large part of them) and the loser pays for his own fees and possibly also the fees of the winner Litigation creates rancour and disharmony.
  2. The litigation is costly-spending £30,000 per side on a dispute through the courts is not unusual.
  3. A Court case will take at least 18 months and possibly more to arrive at trial.
  4. The outcome is uncertain and often beyond your control.

The alternate solution is a means of resolving disputes that go back in time to the ancient Chinese and Greece where they realised that there was a better way of dealing with disputes.  That solution is of course “mediation.”

Some lawyers run away from mediation believing it to be something akin to witchcraft and a skill that detracts from the Courts process and detracts from the skill set that lawyers traditionally have.

Mediation is where a neutral person sits between the rival groups and by questioning and challenging views held by each group assist the parties themselves to arrive at the solution.  Mediation can take place at any point in a dispute and can even take place after litigation has commenced and even during a trial.

A skilled mediator can resolve any kind of dispute although a background in the discipline being argued over is useful. Mediation compares very well with litigation in that>

  1. Both parties can achieve a result from the mediation. There doesn’t need to be an outright winner or an outright loser. You can leave a mediation still being able to speak to your opponent.
  2. A mediation can be exceptionally good value. A mediator will charge between £1000 -£2000 for the day with the fee often being shared by the parties.
  3. A mediation can be over in less than a day.
  4. You are in control of the outcome. As mediations are consensual you cannot be ordered or compelled to do anything.

It is a simple task to look at mediation v litigation and realise which one makes more sense. Mediation can be used to resolve inheritance disputes. It can also be used in employment disputes, boundary disputes and just about anything. Think about it. When your lawyer says “Let’s go to court” who is he thinking of. It probably isn’t you.


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