We offer both Full Day and Time Limited mediation.
Full Day Mediation
A Full Day mediation is just that: as long as it takes on the Mediation Day. We normally aim to start at 10.00am or 10.30am, and the mediation fee covers preparatory reading (usually of one lever arch folder) and as much time as the parties need on the day. We believe that mediation fees should be clear in advance, so we don’t follow the (common) practice of charging for “extra hours” after, say, 4.00pm. As a general rule, most Full Day mediations finish between about 5.00 pm and about 7.00 pm but the mediator will stay as long as the parties wish. This format gives the necessary time to explore complex issues in larger value litigation, and may also be appropriate for cases where there is a counterclaim so that it is not clear (at the outset) who is going to be paying whom. It is also likely to be ideal for cases where there is a need to work through emotionally charged situations such as inheritance disputes, Trusts of Land Act claims and boundary disputes.
Time Limited mediation
A Time Limited mediation will be fixed for a set time, usually between two to four hours, depending on the amount in issue (two hours where the amount is below £5,000, three hours where the amount is between £5,000 and £75,000, and four hours above £75,000). The parties are asked to keep the documents to one hundred pages, and the mediator will manage the timetable to ensure that the mediation concludes at (or close to!) the time limit. The cost is a little over half of the fee for a Full Day mediation. This format is ideal in commercial cases, where there is no or little emotional involvement, where “time is money”, where the amount in dispute is relatively modest, and especially so in cases where there is no counterclaim, so that the only issue is whether a cheque is paid by the Defendant to the Claimant and if so “how much?”.
Can't we just set off and see if we finish within the time limit?
A good question! The reality is that the choice between a Full Day or Time Limited is as much a question of mind set as one of timing. If the parties want to finish in half a day, and really buy in to the time limit, then we will finish by the time limit (or thereabouts!). If the parties have chosen a time limit then when the mediator says that it’s time to “cut to the chase" then the parties usually will cut to the chase. Whereas if there is no time limit, and the mediator invites the parties to put the issues to one side and “cut to the chase”, the parties are likely to reply that they aren't ready to cut to the chase, they want to bottom out a particular point, and accordingly we won't finish in half a day.
Which means in our experience, if the parties select a Time Limited mediation, and “buy into” that choice, we will finish in half a day, whereas if they don't, then we won't. So we find that in practice the parties need to decide in advance whether we’re aiming to finish in half a day or whether we anticipate longer.
Why don't you offer Time Limited mediation for high value claims?
Simply, our experience is that for sums in excess of £250,000 the time limit is not helpful. The parties will settle when they are ready to, which may or may not be quickly, but when the amount at issue is, say, £500,000, we find that people don’t always respond well to being told to “Cut to the chase” after a couple of hours!
We are always happy to discuss whether a particular case is suitable for Time Limited mediation.