When working in close proximity with others on a daily basis, disagreements and disputes are expected to come up. Naturally, people with different personalities and different backgrounds will have different ways of handling situations. Disputes usually occur when one or more people fail to come to an acceptable agreement on a matter. In some cases these conflicts are one-time occurrences and resolve themselves however, in other situations intervention is required to prevent the situation from escalating. Every employer has a duty to provide a clear, well written procedure on how to handle disputes. Generally, most companies will have Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as an option before turning to legal solutions. This is because ADR is both cheaper and less time consuming. In this article we’ll look mediation as a mode of resolving office disputes.
WHAT IS MEDIATION
Mediation is the process where a third party i.e. a mediator, essentially, helps parties to settle their disputes by a process of discussion and narrowing differences. The mediator helps the parties to arrive at an agreed solution. In Kenya Mediation is provided for as a mode of dispute resolution under the Mediation Act of 2020.
ADVANTAGES OF MEDIATION
One of the many advantages of mediation is the benefit of confidentiality. Mediation is a confidential process. Mediators cannot disclose any information revealed during the mediation process. Mediation is a private process and not subject to public knowledge and possible media attention as can be the case with civil litigation. This way matters can be handled privately.
- Time & Cost Effective
Mediation is a quick and inexpensive method of dispute resolution. Mediation generally takes less time to complete, allowing parties to find a solution sooner than going to court. This saves the company’s resources and time.
- Preserves Working Relationships
Many disputes occur in the context of ongoing work relationships due to various infringements of employees’ rights. Mediation provides an avenue to address all parties’ interests while also preserving working relationships in ways that would not be possible in a win/lose decision-making procedure i.e. in court proceedings. Mediation can also make the termination of a work relationship more amicable.
Mediation gives parties autonomy over their negotiation process. Parties who negotiate their own settlements have more control over the outcome of their dispute. Parties have an equal say in the process. There is no determination of fault, but rather, the parties reach a mutually agreeable resolution to their conflict.
- Focuses on Parties Interests
In court litigation or arbitration, the outcome of a case is determined by the facts of the dispute and the applicable law. In a mediation, the parties can also be guided by their interests. As such, the parties are free to choose an outcome that is oriented as much to the future of their relationship as to their past conduct. When the parties refer to their interests and engage in dialogue, mediation often results in a settlement that creates more value than would have been created if the underlying dispute had not occurred.
As a company it is important to have an established mode of dispute resolution that can be turned to before things escalate and parties end up in court. Should you like to explore your options, the Kenyan Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Dispute Resolution Centre and Mediation Training Institute are currently the main bodies that offer