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Mediation is good for business

Mediation is good for business

Mediation is good for business 庭外和解的商业益处

Mediation usually means a confidential meeting between disputing parties with the assistance of a neutral third party, and this third party (who is also known as the mediator) will not be involved in later court proceedings. The mediator's job is to facilitate the meeting and help to craft the settlement agreement if parties can broadly agree on the terms. Parties can jointly choose a mediator, or let an administrative organisation like Singapore Mediation Centre choose one for them. Whatever is said in mediation cannot be disclosed to the court, so that everyone can speak freely in trying to arrive at a solution which benefits all sides.

So why am I happy to recommend mediation to my clients?

  1. You pay much less than you would for bringing the suit to trial. A conservative estimate would be a difference by a factor of at least 5. Of course, this depends on the complexity of your case and the lawyers you chose to hire.
  2. You spend much less time and effort on the dispute on the whole. This also means less stress of having to create a better case for trial by sorting out your documents and finding reliable witnesses, and also waiting to find out whether the judge will rule in your favour. It also frees up time and mental space for you to do what actually matters to you – including running and expanding your business.
  3. You have the opportunity to create an agreement that addresses other issues and concerns, and to create an outcome which the court may not have the power to order. It is more than just compromise or meeting each other in the middle. For example, the court can't order someone to apologise to you for making defamatory remarks, but mediation gives you the opportunity to raise such concerns and find a way for the other party to recognise that your feelings have been hurt.

And of course, the next thing my clients ask me is "what about the cost?"

Usually, parties will share the cost of a private mediation session, or pay a small fixed fee (in the range of low hundreds) if the mediation is conducted in the court. The cost includes the mediator's fees, as well as rental fees for the meeting room. For private mediation, the cost is usually in the mid 4-digits for a single-day session. (Do note that lawyers charge their fees separately for preparation and attendance.)

"That sounds expensive for a one-day event!" you might say. But consider the alternative of going to trial:

  1. You have to spend time with your lawyer to help him or her understand the background facts, and dig up the necessary documents, and gather your witnesses. This is going to be an extended effort because your lawyer very likely needs more information from you as your case progresses. If you are the suing party (also known as the plaintiff), then you have to prepare everything first before your claim is filed. When your claim is filed, your lawyer may have to answer to the defence and a possible counterclaim. This process can take at least 3 months, depending on the complexity of your case.
  2. It is then time to exchange relevant documents. If one party wants more documents to be disclosed, then the lawyers may have to argue for and against such disclosure in court. This discovery process can take another 3 months or more, and the cost highly depends on how hotly contested the relevance of the documents are.
  3. Your witnesses then need to submit written and sworn statements (unlike television shows, the Singaporean court system is all about the paperwork). Another 2 months or so passes by while you pay your lawyer again.
  4. Finally it is time to come to trial! But let the judge check his calendar first, since other suits have come before yours and queuing up is a necessity. If you're lucky, you may get your trial within 6 months. And the cost of the trial is going to be directly proportionate to the number of days it will take.

So if you are lucky enough to have efficient lawyers who know their work and can give you upfront fixed fees, you might finally get to trial about 18 months later, after paying anywhere from the mid 5-digits to the low 6-digits over time (instead of receiving a huge invoice after all that work is done).

Therefore we encourage clients to seriously consider mediation and to spend substantial time to prepare to negotiate at mediation, because we think it better serves the economic interests of a business (as well as its other stakeholders, such as its managers and employees) compared to going for trial in the majority of cases.

If you need help preparing and strategising before a mediation session, contact me via email (boongan@lawfirm.com.sg) or send a LinkedIn message to Boon Gan Ng.

庭外和解会议通常依赖中立的和解员协助双方与律师达成化解纠纷的协议。和解员可由双方或和解中心指定,更加保定和解员的中立性。此会议的内容将严格保密,好让大家都能放心地谈判。如果双方能达成共识,和解员可以提供草稿协议条例、细节的意见。

在一般情况,我会推荐当事人尝试和解,即使胜算不错。

  1. 如果纠纷能以和解终止,当事人的法律费用当然比较少,甚至比上庭审讯少5倍。纠纷越复杂,聘请的律师越多,上庭的费用自然往上涨。
  2. 能在一天之内化解纠纷,当然胜于花最少1年的时间准备文件,等待法官的判定。同时,当事人也能减轻精神上的压力,把精力集中于经营或扩张生意。
  3. 法官的裁定权有限,能下判的结果不一定能满足当事人根深蒂固的需求,例如在毁谤纠纷,法庭是无法强制被告向原告道歉。和解程序的优点就在于灵活性和宽阔性,协议的条例不限制于法律所设定的结果。

心的费用。虽然一天和解会议的总共费用是4位数的数目,但和起诉、审讯的费用比起来简直是小巫见大巫:

  1. 准备起诉的工作,不仅须要向当事人了解纠纷的来龙去脉,还须要参考文件,与证人进行面试。如果当事人是原告,那么必须承担更多的准备工作,以防起诉过后才发现方案的破绽。作为被告,就必须谨慎地考虑反驳、反告的可能性、可实施性。这第一阶段的工作通常会持续至少3月。
  2. 双方表明立场之后,再交换有关文件。如果文件不完整、不充实,对方可向法庭申请文件透露令。在纠纷复杂、文件泛滥的情况下,这阶段可能耗上超过1年的时间。
  3. 新加坡诉讼程序要求所有证人递交宣誓书,再上庭让对方律师拷问。律师不仅需要准备宣誓书,还须让证人做好被拷问的心理准备。这阶段又须要1或2月。
  4. 律师完成了准备工作,还需要法官安排审讯的日期。虽然新加坡法院效率较高,但法院资源有限,加上审讯可能需要好几天,甚至好几个星期,审讯很可能是最少半年过后才能进行。

总共算起,起诉到审讯须要至少18月,花费很容易达到5位数,甚至6位数。相比之下,和解更省时省事。以当事人的经济利益为先的律师,自然会鼓励当事人慎重考虑参与和解会议。

参加和解会议之前,须要和解咨询、策略服务的网友们,不妨通过电邮 (boongan@lawfirm.com.sg)LinkedIn (Boon Gan Ng)询问。

Need Help With A Legal Dispute? 需要关于解决纠纷的法律咨询?

If you have any questions relating to business dispute prevention or how to settle a business dispute in Singapore, feel free to email or drop me a LinkedIn message. I will do my best to respond within 24 hours.

Or leave a message here (your personal particulars will not be shared with third parties without your permission).

若有关于商业纠纷防范、和解方案的疑问,可通过电邮或LinkedIn联系。我会尽量在24小时之内回复。

您也可以通过以下表格留言。我们不会在得到您的许可之前把个人资料传达给第三方。

Need Help With A Legal Dispute? 需要关于解决纠纷的法律咨询?