Mediation or Litigation?

Which will make your life better?

We have written this blog because an article in The West this week stood out to us as a perfect example of the perils of litigation, how it can get very out of control very quickly, and how mediation could have saved everyone a lot of angst and a lot of money. 

The article describes an argument over $500 which led a car owner and a mechanic to spend 10 years in court, at least $25,000 in legal fees (possibly double that) and has almost certainly had a huge emotional cost on both of the men. A simple disagreement over work requested and work done has gone to every court in WA and led to the car owners house being put up for sale to pay outstanding lawyers bills.

The case which began in small claims court and ended in WA’s highest court led the appeal judges to tell the men that their case is “wholly uncommercial and disproportionate given the nature of the underlying dispute” or to rephrase, why have these people been in court for 10 years over $500.

So would mediation or litigation have worked better?

There is no way anyone could suggest that litigation has been a good solution here – for either of the men – whereas mediation early on could have saved everyone a lot of time, a lot of angst and a lot of money. There is no doubt this kind of court process is extraordinarily stressful for those involved, hugely emotionally taxing on those closest to you and very expensive. Whereas mediation could have found a solution in a fraction of the time at a fraction of the cost and allowed everyone to carry on with enjoying the more important things in their lives.

Mediation is a structured discussion led by a professional mediator with the aim of finding a resolution that all parties can live with. It is not aimed at proving one side right and the other wrong but at finding a way out of the situation where everyone can save face and get what they need. And it is also a great opportunity for people to say their piece to the other side – an opportunity they wouldn’t get in court.

The aim of mediation is to find some sort of middle ground where everyone gets at least some of what they want. In this case the work was done and was needed to be done or other charges would have been brought. So a reasonable middle ground would have been paying for parts but not labour. So one side wears the cost of the parts and the other side the cost of the labour.

So if you think you want your day in court you need to ask yourself – mediation or litigation, which is better for me in the long term, which will cost me more, and which will get me a quicker result?

All good questions to ask before you go down a path that may cost you 10 years and 10’s of thousands of dollars.

This article in The West has outlined the perils of litigation and how it can get very out of control.
This article in The West has outlined the perils of litigation and how it can get very out of control. Mediation could have stopped it right at the beginning
Susan is a fully qualified FDRP and accredited collaborative lawyer.

Susan Hewitt is the Principal at Bright Side Family Law, a non-litigious family law and mediation practice. Susan has worked as a lawyer and journalist for almost 30 years. She is an accredited collaborative lawyer and qualified Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner who is committed to helping families through their relationship breakdown in an honest, cooperative and respectful manner.

If you are facing a family law or parenting matter please call, message or email us at BrightSide.





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