Our Mediation and Arbitration team includes John Campbell (certified mediator – civil, family, certified arbitrator) and Tarel Swansky (certified family law mediator).
Often when business or personal disputes arise they can be resolved through simple conversation and listening. Trial and litigation results when these two seemingly simple pieces are lost or unattainable. While in some instances litigation is necessary, it can also be time consuming, expensive and set a dangerous precedent for an organization or an ongoing parenting relationship. There is another option: mediation or arbitration. These have the benefit of being quicker and usually far less expensive than going to trial. Further, they may result in a better on-going relationship between parties – something that an adversarial trial might not allow for.
Our team members draw on their training and experience in both arbitration and mediation techniques and procedures to assist business clients and individuals in finding effective solutions to their disputes.
They help you to assess your situation, and present you with a range of dispute resolution options outside of the court system. They will outline the pros and cons of each strategy and give you the information you need to decide the best course of action for your situation.
Mediation can be an effective, cost-efficient, productive way to resolve issues with another party. It can occur more quickly than a trial, and will likely cost significantly less.
Mediation also often holds the best chance of maintaining a workable relationship with the other party when necessary.
Our team offers two types of mediation as follows:
- Business mediation
- Family mediation
Mediation is essentially a facilitated conversation between the parties in dispute. The mediator controls the conversation to ensure that both parties are properly heard and that the process remains civil. Certain rules apply to the conversation, the most important of which is that the conversations are “without prejudice.” This means that offers can be exchanged and bargaining can take place, but unless settlement is reached, nothing that is said in the mediation can be used later in court. Also, the conversations at mediation are completely confidential.
Parties may find initially that sitting across from the other side is uncomfortable, but the mediator makes sure that there are no attempts at coercion. After a short time, the parties start to feel very comfortable, especially since – probably for the first time in the process – they have the opportunity to tell their story and to see the other party actually listen and react.
Mediators won’t give legal advice to either party, but they don’t hesitate to let you know what a court might do in any particular situation.
Mediators do not represent one side or the other. They serve as the conduit for an agreement to be reached by both parties.
Mediated agreements invariably do not result in either party “winning.” Instead, an agreement is brokered that finds the middle ground the parties need to be able to carry on – run their businesses, parent their children – in a manner they themselves choose together.
John Campbell was one of the first lawyers in BC to complete the Family Mediation program and he became certified to act as a mediator in family disputes in 1986. Tarel Swansky is also a certified family mediator, and is working closely with John to develop her practice expertise.
Arbitration is another option that can provide a timely and cost-effective method of resolving disputes privately in a businesslike manner without the expense and delay of court.
In this dispute resolution mechanism, a neutral third party, named an arbitrator, reviews testimony and evidence from all sides of a dispute and makes a decision. Decisions by an arbitrator can be decreed by legislation or mutual agreement by the parties to be legally binding and enforceable in court.
A primary benefit of arbitration is speed: this process can take a fraction of the time it might take to go to court. Arbitration also provides a degree of privacy that might not be available in court. However one of the challenges is that the results of arbitration can be more unpredictable, and yet are legally binding. There are certainly many considerations when contemplating this method of dispute resolution.
That said, it is a frequently used tool, especially in the business world. In fact, many business contracts include an arbitration clause to ensure that any disputes are quickly and efficiently dealt with.
John Campbell completed his advanced commercial mediation certification in 1992 and became a qualified Arbitrator in 1998. He has years of experience in arbitrating a variety of issues for a wide range of businesses.