Law firms who manage construction defect cases understand the complexity and challenges that their clients face. Construction projects often involve years of planning, back-and-forth processes between property owners and the government entities that issue permits, architectural design firms, and construction contractors. When things don’t go as planned, the owner and the builder could wind up facing years of disputes over who is to blame and what the solution should be. Sometimes, your law firm gets caught in such disputes, taking up hours of your team’s time – without an end in sight.
Mediation for your clients through the Law Office of Michael G. Wales could be the answer you and your clients need.
While these matters can be settled through litigation or arbitration, with a judge, jury, or arbitrator making the final decision on who is to blame and who deserves financial recovery, mediation offers a potentially better path. An experienced third-party mediator can help the parties and potentially come to a resolution that is best for all involved.
The careful planning and execution of a construction project can be laid to waste by relatively minuscule oversights. Some of the issues plaintiffs seek remedy for include:
Compared to the win-at-all-costs hostility litigation breeds, mediation offers a place where the parties in a construction defect dispute can rationally explain their side and, if necessary, insurance representatives present. The mediator’s goal is to get the parties to agree to terms for a settlement agreement where both sides accomplish some of their goals for ending the dispute.
Whether the relationship between the property owner and the builder is a one-off project or a longstanding partnership, they had trust in each other to bring the project into reality. Regardless of who wins in litigation, that relationship could be fractured forever. Mediation presents a more measured environment, devoid of the pressure litigation presents when one side is ultimately going to win. If there is any chance the two parties would benefit from working together again, mediation is a better place for the matter to be settled.
Your clients care about their privacy. While what they divulge to you is held in confidence, this isn’t the case for what comes out in court. Litigation can feature attacks that could be detrimental to the reputation of both the plaintiff and defendant. Going to trial, especially if the construction defects are attached to a large, high-publicity project, means public records that are accessible for years. Mediation quells some of these concerns by allowing a settlement to be discussed and ultimately reached in a secure and confidential location. The settlement agreement can even include clauses for non-disclosure and maintaining confidentiality.
After the long process of bringing a construction project to fruition, the discovery of defects is a serious matter. It deserves thorough attention and a proper resolution. There are inevitably cases where the two sides are so far apart on the topics of blame and compensation that it does wind up in litigation. Once it does, discovery, motions, hearings, depositions, and other pre-trial events could take months or even years before the case ever goes to trial.
During the prolonged litigation experience, attorney fees will inevitably pile up on both sides, turning an expensive business matter into a costly legal one as well. While rates for such situations are fair, they may exceed what your client is feasibly able to pay. Working with a mediator means disputes can be resolved in a more timely fashion, saving your clients money and firm work.
If the parties can still be amicable enough to negotiate, mediation may offer a path to resolve the issue in hours or days instead of months and years. Rather than your client paying your firm and the disputed party paying theirs, the cost of mediation can also be split between the two parties. Mediation begins with the sides coming to a mutual agreement to try mediation as a solution, so there is already a sliver of cooperation to build on.
In mediation, the attorneys also have more power to have both candid discussions and consider creative solutions with the help of the mediator. In court, one side ultimately wins and the other loses, with little to no middle ground.
Mediation allows for a much larger range of possible outcomes to be negotiated. This includes the options for making the agreement confidential. In addition to saving money on legal bills, the mediation process is also a place where the sides can consider how a settlement may be better for the bottom line by preventing reputational damage.
Mediation does not have to take place in person. The Law Firm of Michael G. Wales has successfully mediated construction defect cases via Zoom to the satisfaction of all parties involved. We can do the same for your clients.
In addition to being easier to schedule and removing travel costs and logistics as potential obstacles, some parties find it easier to negotiate with the barrier of a computer screen to help diffuse emotions. While plaintiffs, defendants, and attorneys may become heated during negotiations, a verbal confrontation that may escalate in person can be more easily redirected and diffused virtually.
Negotiations can still take place securely and confidentially – just as they would in your own office. The team at the Law Offices of Michael G. Wales are experts at managing the virtual drafting and circulation of settlement agreements for rapid signing and execution.
If both parties are amenable to pursuing mediation online, the legal counsel for each must agree on a mediator. Zoom links will be provided to all relevant parties by the mediator once scheduling and payment arrangements have been coordinated.
On the day mediation is to commence, the parties are admitted one at a time by the mediator, preventing any confrontations in the Zoom meeting that are outside the mediator’s control. Breakout rooms are assigned to each side, allowing for private meetings to discuss strategy, consider term offers, and meet with the mediator away from the other party. The mediator is neutral and will work equally to try to guide the parties to a solution that ends the dispute to both their benefits.
If your client is facing a construction defect dispute and mediation seems like the best outcome, consider the Law Offices of Michael G. Wales. Contact us to discuss how mediation can be used to resolve your client’s case.
One option for a person, couple, or business in conflict is to
go to court. The legal system can resolve their dispute, but
the emotional and financial costs can be devastating.
Many disputes have a prior history of an amicable relationship. Litigation (arbitration or court) will likely kill any prospect of continued relations.
Conducting mediation online, as opposed to in-person, provides the opportunity to extend the benefits of these alternatives to many disputes including, but not limited to, the following:
Disputes between parties who are too geographically distant to enable a meeting to take place;