Chaired Solutions - A new kid on the block?

I attend a lot of settlement meetings with clients. These are invariably conducted on a without prejudice basis and the purpose of such a meeting is both simple and given away by its title.
 

"Chaired Solutions" - A new kid on the block?

 

I attend a lot of settlement meetings with clients. These are invariably conducted on a “without prejudice” basis and the purpose of such a meeting is both simple and given away by its title. 

 
I usually prepare a Client in advance by asking it to think about the implications of not reaching a deal on the day. What happens if we don’t settle? What will it cost to adjudicate, arbitrate or litigate the dispute?  What is our Client’s Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement? What is our Client’s Worst Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement?
 
These questions are not designed to put our Client under pressure. Far from it. It is simply our job to make sure that our Client enters the negotiations which inevitably form part of a settlement meeting in the right frame of mind, fully prepared and ready to gauge and value the attractiveness of any offers received to settle the dispute with an educated mind.
 
Now this is all very well and good but how do I know that my opposite number has done the same level and type of preparation? Do I ever suspect that my opposition has neglected to explain the facts of life to his or her Client? Could I be cynical enough to suggest that there is little interest in settlement because this could mean an Alarming Drop in Revenue to my opposing solicitor or adviser (not to be confused with Alternative Dispute Resolution). Well, sometimes I suspect this is the case.
 
Now turn the question on its head. Is it possible that opposing parties attend settlement meetings with Clients of my firm wondering if we are guilty of not having prepared and advised our Client properly? Well I suppose this has to be a possibility. So what is the answer?
 
It is just possible that the clever people at Northwest Mediation Solutions (“NMS”) (see www.nwmediationsolutions.co.uk) have come up with the answer to this conundrum. They call this service “Chaired Solutions”.
 
NMS will, for a fixed fee of £750, provide a Chairman to oversee the settlement meeting. As you may have guessed, each of NMS’ Chairmen are qualified and experienced mediators, so parties buying into this service can expect to be reality tested in private, given guidance on how to approach the negotiations and in the writing up of a settlement agreement if one is reached.
 
Now nobody likes to advise a Client to incur costs without a return. So is £375 per party a good investment? I say it is. Why? Simply because the prospects for settlement, where a neutral chairman is present at a meeting, increase dramatically. 
 
So, if you want to improve the prospects for success at a settlement meeting, Chaired Solutions may be just what you are looking for.

Peter Vinden is a practising adjudicator, arbitrator, expert, mediator, and conciliator. He is Managing Director of Vinden and can be contacted by email at pvinden@vinden.co.uk. Peter Vinden is also a panel member of Northwest  Mediation Solutions.    
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