Whether you operate a small or large business, at some point in your career, you may have to deal with business litigation. To avoid the pain and expense of going to court, you will likely have to participate in a mediation. This could result from a payment dispute, a breach of contract claim, or various other issues.
At the Curley Law Firm, we participate in business mediation every day. But this process is often new and unfamiliar to our clients, so we are here to help guide you through it. We will prepare you for what questions a mediator will ask and help you understand the ins and outs of this type of alternative dispute resolution. Don’t hesitate to contact us today.
What Is Business Mediation in Texas?
In Texas, business mediation is an in-person or virtual meeting between parties and, if represented by counsel, their lawyers to try to resolve a dispute without going to court. A neutral third party, called a mediator, runs the meeting. The mediator’s job is to speak with each of the parties and to try to get the parties to reach a resolution. What questions a business mediator will ask depends on both the parties and the nature of their dispute.
What Is the Process of Mediation for Business Disputes?
Unlike arbitration, mediation does not have a formal procedure. However, most mediation sessions follow a similar format. Common steps in a mediation session include:
- First, an introduction by the mediator and a statement of the rules of mediation;
- Then, each side is given the opportunity to describe their version of the dispute;
- Depending on the mediator and the parties, the mediator may encourage both parties to discuss the issue or may engage each party privately;
- Then, the mediator will typically the parties together to jointly discuss and negotiate a solution;
- If the negotiation is successful, then the mediator will put down the agreement in writing and, if they and their lawyers agree, the parties sign the agreement; and
- If the negotiation was not successful, the mediator will summarize the issues the parties did agree on and advise them of options for next steps.
Mediation is a straightforward process, and most mediation cases last only a day or two. More extensive business and divorce or custody mediation may last significantly longer than just a few days, but even mediation lasting a few weeks or even months is typically much quicker than traditional litigation.
Expected Questions in Texas Business Mediation
When preparing for mediation, thinking through what questions will a mediator ask can be very helpful. Some questions to help you identify critical issues and narrow your dispute include:
- What are the main issues of concern to you? What do you think are the main issues of concern to the other party?
- What are your goals for the mediation? Do you think your goals and the goals of the other party are aligned?
- What obstacles might there be to having a productive session?
- What will happen if the dispute is not resolved through mediation?
- Is there anything you need to help you participate in the process?
The mediator might also ask questions about how the discussion during mediation has impacted your position on the dispute. Some questions the mediator might ask could include:
- As you listened to the other party, what did you hear that was new or different? Did you learn anything that helps you think about how you two could come together?
- What, if anything, would you like to ask the other party that you did not think to ask before?
- What information have you not yet shared that might help the other party understand you and your concerns?
- What else do you need to help you make a decision, if anything?
Finally, the mediator may ask you some exploratory questions to get you to think more about your own position and the situation at hand. Those questions could include:
- How does the information you are learning today help you understand the situation and how you want to deal with it?
- What is the impact of what we have discussed today on your viewpoint?
- How might you change your own mind or the minds of stakeholders at your company?
- What difference, if any, would changing your mind about this dispute make for you?
Because a mediator’s goal is to help the parties reach a mutual decision on their own and not to be a fact finder or arbiter of truth, your mediator may ask you many “thought” questions as you go through the process. Your attorney can help you prepare for and navigate these kinds of questions along the way.
How the Curley Law Firm Can Help
At the Curley Law Firm, we have spent over a decade helping business owners resolve disputes without a trip to the courthouse. We can help resolve disputes quickly so businesses can get back to running the business. Contact us today to learn more.