Mediation: Key to get through the deadlock in consumer disputes
Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR), mainly denotes a wide range of dispute resolution processes that act as a means of disagreeing parties to come to an agreement without using the means of litigation. It is a collective term that refers to how the parties can settle disputes, with the help of a third party. It is also known as external dispute resolution (EDR). ADR has gained widespread acceptance among both the general public and the legal profession in recent years and is also being adopted as the means to help settle disputes alongside the court system itself. The various forms of ADR include arbitration, mediation, conciliation, negotiation, etc. However, apart from arbitration, mediation has gained widespread recognition and acceptance. It is especially after the Singapore Convention on Mediation, that mediation received global recognition
In the process of mediation, a third neutral party attempts to assist the disputing parties in reaching an amicable settlement and a mutually acceptable agreement. It is the most uncomplicated method of dispute resolution where the third party acts as a mediator to resolve the dispute between the parties by using the means of communication and negotiation. The process of mediation is completely controlled by the parties since the mediator is only a medium to facilitate the process of reaching an amicable settlement. A mediator’s suggestions are not binding on either of the parties. Recently, the coronavirus (COVID-19) global health crisis is drastically impacting communities worldwide. It has caused unprecedented disruptions and damaged the world’s economy and business relationships. A great number of commercial or consumer disputes are coming forth as parties are finding it difficult to perform their contractual obligations. There is a complete possibility that the crisis will result in a surge of litigation and will consequently delay the resolution of pending court cases. It is the unprecedented delays that should steer the parties towards alternative dispute resolution (ADR). It must be mentioned that mediation has been a go-to in cases of consumer disputes.
The most important goal of mediation is to reduce the burden on the courts. European Union encouraged the member states to adopt alternative resolution methods in consumer disputes, before entering horizontal regulations into force. Several members of the EU have adopted ADR mechanisms for the resolution of disputes. It has been successfully put to use in Turkey where the use of mediation in resolving consumer disputes has been highly prevalent. It is a well-known fact that mediation is a much quicker, cost-saving, and informal process. When it comes to consumer disputes, positive discrimination in favor of consumers may be considered. Disputes may also be governed through online platforms by way of enabling a portal on the e-government system, as currently adopted for consumer arbitration boards, to allow consumers to reach these services. It is very important in the current circumstances to offer online services. Financial issues, additional tax, and contribution margins to be incurred when implementing the proposals may be distributed among businesses based on their size.
Under the current circumstances, mediation is the most efficient medium and must be promoted as a successful and economically viable method for all stakeholders. Since mediation offers the flexibility to come up with fresh solutions, it can help the parties reach an agreement which is beneficial for both of them in some ways instead of taking the usual course of breaking down the assets and reconsolidating the business interests.