Small businesses are close partnerships between individuals where conflicts, disagreements, and misunderstandings can occur between founding members, employer and employee or between co-workers.
Mediation, rather than litigation, offers resolutions that may be able to help you and the other party come to an understanding that addresses both of your needs and interests. In mediation, a neutral third person—the mediator—meets with the disputing parties to help them try to work it out together. The mediator can meet with each party separately and work out compromises back and forth. The other option is for the mediator and the disputing parties together. While each case is different, mediation can be an efficient and effective conflict resolution method that can build community among small business people and their customers and neighbors.
Depending on the circumstance, mediation can result in agreement or memorandum setting out what the parties have agreed to. Some people want to be able to have a judge enforce the settlement if either party breaches. Each case is individual and no outcome can be guaranteed in advance.
The New Jersey courts actually mandate that certain cases sit with a mediator prior to being heard by a judge. One of the benefits of mediation is that the parties are free to reach a result on their own terms that would not have been available to the parties if the case was heard by a judge. A judgment from the court typically has a winner and a loser, a settlement reached in mediation can have both parties winning and both parties losing at the same time. Another benefit of mediation is that it has the potential to cost less than if you were to take your case to court. A third benefit of mediation is the ability to select a mediator that is knowledgeable on the subject matter at hand, rather than being assigned a judge who may be unfamiliar with the specific issue.
If you do not reach a resolution in mediation, you still have the option of taking legal action if you feel it is necessary.