In 2004, a Court elucidated the importance of mediation recently espoused by many Courts around the world. In Halsey v. Milton Keynes General NHS Trust, the British Civil Court of Appeal decided that alternative dispute resolution – including mediation – is necessary upon request of one party. A party’s unreasonable refusal to participate in mediation constitutes unreasonable litigation conduct. Since the decision, other Courts have stiffened its expectations regarding the need to respond to mediation requests. A recent appeal of the 2004 British case, PGF II SA v. OMFS Company added that silence counts as refusal to mediate under normal circumstances. In other words, you cannot ignore mediation.
More and more courts follow this trend towards alternative dispute resolution by ordering mediation in a wide range of cases.
Mediation can’t wait: United States District Court Chief Judge Gerald Rosen recently ordered a mediation on Christmas Eve a day after Detroit’s bankruptcy proceedings were suspended. Like in the Halsey case, the order states, “Failure of any party to appear shall be grounds for the imposition of immediate sanctions, including entry of a default judgment.”
Another recent lawsuit concerned a boy who reportedly collapsed after being hit in the groin with a basketball. Instead of helping him, two teachers allegedly left him on the ground for 20 minutes, dismissing his condition as “man problems.” This kind of conflict may seem too combative for alternative resolution, but a North Carolina judge still ordered mediation between the parties.
The trend is worldwide: according to Asia One News, Singapore actively prefers mediation to lawsuits. “Mediation figures have jumped fourfold to about 200 cases this year at the Singapore Mediation Centre” in the last eight years. Asia One News. Singapore has found that parties often save 90% of costs through mediation, convincing much of the country to choose mediation.
Mediation is becoming an obligation in many cases because it so successfully substitutes and replaces grueling lawsuits. Courts and participants are continually realizing that mediation is the right choice.
Alona M. Gottfried is a mediator and attorney in Arizona. If you have questions about mediation, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or alona(at)sglawaz.com. This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice. See a legal professional before making legal decisions.
Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC
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