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Mediators in Hungerford Berkshire, mediation

Why consider mediation? At Dickins Hopgood Chidley we understand that becoming involved in a dispute, whether it be with a business, customer or between individuals, can be stressful, time-consuming and expensive.

So when we look at how best to resolve your dispute, we look not only at Court proceedings, but also at methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

There are many varieties that are suitable for different types of dispute, but this fact sheet considers Mediation.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary process whereby the parties agree to appoint an independent third party, the mediator, whose role is to assist the parties in coming to a mutually agreed resolution to a dispute. The mediator is not a judge; they will not decide the case or come down on one party’s side. Instead they discuss the parties’ positions on the case and settlement offers and discuss risks of the case and other factors that a Court would consider, to help the parties narrow the issues and eventually, all being well, come to a negotiated position.

Mediation is confidential and without prejudice, which means that nothing said at the mediation can later be used in any court proceedings. This gives the parties the freedom to say what they like and come to any agreement they wish, which a Court may not be able to award.

Proceedings do not need to have been issued for a mediation to be attempted between the parties to a dispute; indeed the trend is moving towards early mediation to avoid the costs of issuing Court proceedings at all.

How does Mediation work?

The parties, either together or at the suggestion of one, will agree to attend mediation. This will not be ordered by the Court, as Mediation is a voluntary process, but the Court does have an expectation of the parties to attempt to settle the dispute at all stages, and can impose cost sanctions on a party that unreasonably refuses to mediate. Once the parties have agreed to attend mediation, they will propose mediators and agree which one is to be appointed. Some mediators specialise in certain areas and it is important that a mediator is appointed who has the relevant knowledge of the area of law the dispute covers. Sometimes a party wants ‘their’ mediator to be appointed, but in reality, as the mediator is independent, it makes little difference which party nominates him or her.

Once the mediator has been appointed, the parties will agree a bundle of documents, known as the mediation bundle, which the mediator will review prior to the mediation. The parties may, and the mediator may require them to, exchange a position statement, which is a document that sets out their position on the dispute and what they wish to achieve at the mediation. The position statement may even set out thoughts on offers they would make. A ‘for the mediator’s eyes only’ statement may also be produced, which would only be disclosed to the other party with the consent of the other.

On the day of the mediation, it may begin with a joint session, where all parties sit in one room and the mediator chairs a discussion of the issues of the case. This is not a requirement and it may be that the parties do not meet through the entirety of the mediation. The parties will then break out to their own room and the mediator will shuttle between them, initially discussing the dispute generally to get an understanding of the parties’ position, perhaps facilitating an exchange of legal arguments before building up to the exchange of offers and counter offers until, hopefully, a settlement is reached.

Mediation is a voluntary process and one party may stop participating at any time. Equally, mediations can be quite long, with discussions going on into late evening. Once an agreement has been reached, it is not binding until it has been recorded in writing and signed by all parties. This is usually undertaken by the legal advisers with assistance from the mediator.

What does Mediation cost?

The fees of a mediator are variable and are sometimes based on the value of the dispute being mediated. Typically, a contractual dispute mediator would charge a fee in the region of £800- £1,500 per party. Additional costs on top may be travel, and additional charges if the mediation runs over a certain time of the day.

On top of the mediator’s fees are legal fees, which also vary depending on the complexity of the dispute being mediated, and whether there is a requirement for barrister attendance, which is sometimes beneficial in complex disputes. If you would like more information regarding mediation or any other method of ADR, please contact Paul Owen to arrange a consultation: 01488 683555 or

Debt Recovery

Debt Recovery legal advice from solicitors and mediators who care - in Berkshire. Calculator with debt notices and a pen.

At Dickins Hopgood Chidley Solicitors, we offer a full debt recovery service, including complying with the Protocol, issuing proceedings, negotiation, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and representation at final hearings. This factsheet considers the Debt Recovery Protocol.

When does the Protocol apply?

The Protocol applies to businesses (including sole traders and public bodies) who are claiming from an
individual (including a sole trader). It does not apply to business to business debts.

Information to be provided by the Creditor

The creditor should send a letter of claim to the debtor which must include:-

• The amount of the debt

• Whether interest or other charges are accruing

• How the debt arises and the content of the agreement

• Where instalments have been offered by the debtor, explanation why this is not appropriate and/or why Court proceedings are being considered.

• How the debt can be paid

• A prescribed information sheet, response form and financial statement form, and details of a return address.

The letter should be sent by post and any other applicable means available, such as email. The debtor has 30 days to respond.

The Debtor’s response

The Debtor’s response should be made by completing the response form and financial information sheet.

The creditor should consider the responses given and decide how best to move forward, for example by settling a payment plan or commencing proceedings.

Early disclosure of documents

The protocol provides for the parties to engage in early disclosure of documents to help them reach a settled position.

Where a request is made by a debtor for documentation, the creditor must provide the document within 30 days, or provide a reason why this is not possible.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

The parties should consider settling the dispute through ADR, at all times.

ADR may include negotiations, without prejudice meetings, or mediation. The size of the debt may dictate what method of ADR is attempted.

Compliance with the Protocol

The Court will expect the parties to have complied with the protocol before proceedings are commenced. The Court may impose sanctions on parties for failing to comply, including in relation to costs.

If you have any questions about the pre-action protocol for debt claims, please contact Paul Owen on 01488 683555 or to arrange a consultation.

To discuss this and to obtain more information contact:
Paul Owen at Dickins Hopgood Chidley Solicitors,
The Old School House, 42 High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0NF 01488 683555