Mayhall Fondren Blaize

Mediation may be used where business litigation is unnecessary

Many business in Louisiana and other states are turning to mediation as an alternative to deciding disputes through traditional court litigation. The expenses and long timelines make business litigation a last resort for most prudent business enterprises. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that is designed to be an informal process in which a neutral mediator tries to guide the parties to a settlement without the use of compulsion.

Mediation saves several important resources for the business, and leaves its executives to conduct the business rather than be compelled to attend long, draining depositions and brutal jury or non-jury trials that take months to set up and consummate. The most seasoned attorneys who are experienced in commercial litigation will facilitate the client's participation in mediation wherever it appears to be appropriate and realistic. Attorneys prefer to see their clients prosper in their businesses rather than getting bogged down in draining legal battles.

One attraction of mediation is that it is done in a much more cordial and non-adversarial manner than litigation in court. The process keeps the dispute confidential and even promotes the prospect that the parties will continue to do business together in the future. Business litigation in a full-blown conflict tends to build hostility as the parties employ adversarial techniques to "catch" the other side in a defenseless position. The maneuvers may be as complicated as a multi-level chess match between masters of the game.

Mediation in Louisiana and other jurisdictions involves encouraging the participants to find common ground on which to build a consensus. They are then encouraged to build some points of agreement through mutually acceptable possibilities. The parties may come to see that the way out is easier than thought and that the sacrifices of compromise are not too steep to live with. One caveat: this is not always the way to go; in some cases, only the formalities of business litigation will suffice to put irresolvable, important issues to a binding test that will have precedential effect.

Source: nhbr.com, "The benefits of mediation", Kat Marquis, March 31, 2017

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