Dispute Mediation Services
Hodge Jones & Allen has a team of trained mediators and collaborative lawyers available to help you. Mediation is a way of sorting out differences and disputes that have arisen from a commercial relationship or personal situation.
What are the benefits of mediation?
It is generally a more amicable and flexible process, less expensive and often quicker than going through the court process, involving solicitors.
What is the role of the mediator?
The mediator acts as a neutral facilitator and will guide the parties involved in the mediation through the whole process. The mediator helps parties to consider possible solutions to their dispute. Often solutions they may not have already considered.
Are there any disadvantages to mediation?
Sometimes parties may not be able to come together to bring about an agreement and will have to go to court.
Personal Dispute Mediation
A mediated approach to a conflict can often be a less stressful route to finding a resolution. You may have a dispute with a family member regarding a probate matter or fallen out with your neighbour over a building project.
A successful mediation includes 5 key steps:
- Statement of the problem
- Information Gathering
- Identification of the actual problems
- Conversation and consideration
- Final settlement
Mediation of family law matters is a private and completely voluntary process. It involves a number of meetings schedule between you, your partner and a mediator where the aim is to speak openly and try to reach an agreement. If/when an agreement is reached it may be made binding, via a court order which our family law solicitors are able to handle for you.
When both parties have a desire to reach an agreement and avoid litigation then any issue can be mediated.
Our family law mediators are leading family law solicitors Jacqueline Major and Vanessa Friend. Both are highly experienced at dealing with difficult family situations and helping you to consider the routes and tools available to you to make informed decisions.
At Hodge Jones & Allen all our mediations are held in a safe environment with personal and professional support provided at every stage.
Collaborative Law is an alternative to mediation. It is another way in which couples wishing to separate can resolve issues without the need for court proceedings. The process involves a series of round table meetings with your partner and your respective lawyers.
At the beginning of the collaborative process you sign an agreement which sets out various principles regarding how you wish to resolve matters. The agreement also confirms your commitment to reach a settlement without going to court.
Our team of family law solicitors include collaboratively trained lawyers, including Bharti Shah who is always happy to discuss the process with you, in more detail.
Another example of where collaborative law can be useful is when agreeing the terms of a prenuptial agreement. Once again, the collaborative law process provides for everyone’s wishes and any concerns are discussed openly, before final terms agreed.
Featured case – Contested Probate Mediation
Our client issued proceedings under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. The deceased, was her partner for over 5 years, although they co-habited only for a few days, before his unexpected death. The deceased died intestate with two surviving adult daughters. Our client lacked mental capacity and so received representation from the Official Solicitor as her litigation friend. We acted for her under exceptional funding from the Legal Aid Agency.
The administration of the estate was carried out by a solicitor who did not actively participate in the mediation. The Estate was worth just over £220,000.
The competing claims to the estate
1) The client’s claim was made either, as a co-habitant, or a person being maintained by the deceased, immediately prior to his death. The evidence showed that they were in a relationship going back about 10 years, having known each other for many years prior to that. At the time of death, he and the client were co-habiting and engaged to be married.
2) The personal circumstances of our client and the deceased prevented them from co-habiting. He had caring responsibilities. Our client gave up her council property to move in with the deceased but unfortunately he died unexpectedly and shortly after.
3) The deceased not only provided our client with a secure roof over her head, where the accommodation was more comfortable than any Council property, but he also paid all her household bills. In addition, he gave her money to spend and live on, bought household items for her (such as a fridge freezer), paid for her petrol and regularly took her on holidays, which were fully paid for by him. Their lives were clearly shared together with joint access to bank accounts and household bills in joint names.
4) Our client was disabled and had her own longstanding health issues. She was a vulnerable adult in receipt of state benefits. She was never be able to undertake work on a paid basis.
5) The two daughters were also disabled and in receipt of state benefits. A Litigation Friend was also involved as they represented one of the daughters.
6) The parties wished for a clean break rather than any life interest and there was not sufficient funds to buy the client let alone everyone else alternative accommodation.
The mediation involved three parties and, following a full day of discussions, a settlement was reached. Our client received a sum of £90,000 from the Estate. The court approved the sum of £90,000 and the monies received, after legal costs were paid, went towards covering a garage at her parents’ house to provide long-term accommodation needs.
The Defendants’ costs were paid from the Estate before distribution to each of them.