When a property dispute arises, particularly within the commercial landscape, landlords and tenants tend to automatically look to resolve the matter through litigation, but disputes don’t have to end up in costly court battles.
Brady Solicitors explain why mediation should be explored as an alternative method of resolving property disputes.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary, informal and confidential process which allows parties to get together and discuss their problems with an impartial mediator to help them settle their differences and reach a negotiated settlement without the need to go to court. It offers a practical and commercial solution that identifies mutual issues to be addressed, outside of legal matters. Mediation is without prejudice, meaning that parties can disclose information and refuse offers without it being held against them should the matter proceed to a trial.
When is mediation appropriate?
Mediation is an ideal solution for property related disputes. For commercial landlords and tenants, it enables disputes to be settled amicably and helps to restore and protect their future relationship. Mediation is effective in lease negotiations, break clause issues, dilapidation disputes, rent reviews and service charge matters, to name but a few.
Mediation vs litigation
Costs – It is considerably cheaper to resolve a property dispute through mediation rather than at court, where legal fees can mount up very quickly. With mediation you are in control as the process cannot start or continue without the parties’ agreement.
Relationships – Often the commercial landlord/ tenant relationship continues beyond the property dispute, which is why it is important to maintain good relations throughout the resolution process. Mediation allows open communication between the parties and lets them negotiate their own solution, whereas with litigation there is only success for one party.
Flexibility – Unlike the court, who can only deal with the matter in dispute, mediation gives greater flexibility in determining the matters included in any settlement. It allows the parties to control the outcome and the costs and you are free to leave the process at any time without a decision being bound upon you. This is not possible during litigation at court.
Non-binding – The mediator has no powers to bind the parties to agreement, whereas a court judge does. In mediation, the parties themselves retain ownership and responsibility for any settlement that is reached rather than having a decision imposed upon them, although the agreed terms form part of an enforceable contract.
Where appropriate, we always explore the route of mediation with our property clients, particularly if it makes commercial sense to do so. For example, Brady Solicitors recently settled a complicated case via mediation, acting for a freeholder of a mixed use development who was facing a claim from a housing association with a head lease over the residential element for a leaking roof. We negotiated the sale of the freehold to the head lessee with a lease back of the commercial units, delivering a commercially successful outcome to the freeholder to whom the commercial rent yields were very important. This outcome would not have been possible if the case had gone to the FTT.
Are you facing a property dispute?
If you need help with a property dispute, commercial or residential, and you are concerned about the costs of lengthy court battles or ruining an ongoing relationship, we’d be happy to discuss the mediation options with you. Contact Brady Solicitors for an informal chat on 0115 985 3450 or drop us a line