A construction dispute can cost you quite a bit. Disputes are bound to come up in any business, including the construction business, but they often cost time and money to resolve. They can also delay a construction project, leading to even higher costs and putting the entire project at risk.
Your instinct might be to go to court over a construction dispute, but sometimes litigation is not your best option. You might be unpleasantly surprised to learn that the court process takes quite a long time.
Some construction disputes can be litigated within a month or two, but that does not happen often. Construction disputes can sometimes take several months or even over a year to resolve. Parties often wait a long time just to get into a courtroom.
Mediation is an option worth considering before determining if going to court is necessary. Tennessee courts allow mediation in any case.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a confidential and informal process. A mediator is a neutral third-party who helps all parties come to a resolution without the need for court intervention.
You are not required to attend or participate in mediation. It is generally a voluntary process. Even if you attend mediation, you are not required to come to an agreement on your dispute, although you should make a good faith effort to resolve it.
There are many reasons that mediation is effective in construction contract disputes. Construction projects involve many tight deadlines and a project is usually put on hold during a dispute.
Saved time and money
You are more likely to resolve your dispute quicker through mediation than litigation. Mediation is a meeting, or series of meetings, which can usually be scheduled and held within a matter of weeks. This is much better than waiting months or a year or more for a court hearing.
The time saved from mediation also usually means less cost for everyone involved. Mediation is typically more cost-effective than litigation.
Mediation offers you more flexibility. You and the other side can tailor your agreement or resolution to your specific needs.
This is especially important in construction disputes, where the situation and issues can be unique and varied. Construction disputes often involve technical details and complex legal provisions which you might not want to leave up to a judge to interpret and decide on.
Preservation of relationships
Many construction projects involve owners, contractors and subcontractors who have worked together on several projects and have long-term relationships. Mediation helps preserve these relationships because it is a non-adversarial process.
Litigation involves two sides making arguments and a judge deciding for everyone. Mediation allows both sides to argue their positions to a mediator who then offers suggestions for mutually beneficial resolutions and encourages a collaborative, helpful environment.
This reduces the chance that long-term working relationships will be damaged or destroyed.
Unlike a judge, a mediator does not have the power to make decisions or order outcomes. Even if you do not reach an agreement at mediation, the process can give you an idea of the other side’s position. This increases the chance of eventually negotiating a solution.