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What if one of the parties wants to withdraw from mediation?

On Behalf of | Jul 8, 2024 | Alternative Dispute Resolution

Not everyone who enters business mediation is convinced it is going to work. Many people are more used to litigating their issues. Others just don’t see how bringing in an outsider (the mediator) who might not know anything about their businesses or industry can help when they, with all their inside knowledge, have not been able to resolve things. 

Nevertheless, many of these skeptics are willing to give mediation a try. But what happens if you get part of the way along and they decide that mediation is not going to help solve the issue?

Explain that you respect their right to withdraw

Mediation is entirely optional, unless, perhaps, your contract obligates it in the case of disputes, or a court has ordered you to use it.

You need to bear this in mind when trying to find a way to keep them involved in the mediation process. Try to be encouraging and supportive rather than dismissive. Explain that you understand their concerns but believe it is worth persevering with. You might even want to throw them a sweetener, perhaps promising to compromise a little more than you originally said you would if it gets them back on board with the process and proves beneficial in the long term.

Explore ways to shake things up

Maybe it’s not the process they have an issue with but the mediator running it. Or the room it is taking place in. Or the timing of the meetings. Try and see if there is a way to change things to make them feel more comfortable and positive about the process again. 

Understand your alternatives

It might just be that mediation is not going to work in this particular dispute. Or that you can mediate part of the issue, but need to use another method to resolve the rest. Staying informed about your options can help you make appropriate choices, whether that is to try again, or to accept it is time to try something else.