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Try Mediation First in Shareholder and Partner Disputes

Even the best laid plans for operating your business can go awry when shareholders or partners don’t agree on what’s best for the company. You might assume that the only way to resolve your differences is to head to a Florida court and hope for the best, but litigation can be a gamble when it comes to shareholder disputes. Plus, it’s costly and you can spend years mired in a clogged court system. Under the circumstances, you might consider mediation: A process where disagreeing parties sit down with a qualified professional to discuss their issues with the goal of compromise. Here are a few reasons to turn to mediation first – before filing a lawsuit.

A Mediator Can Help Facilitate Communication: Professional mediators possess skills that help you talk with the other parties involved in a dispute, guiding the conversation in a meaningful, targeted way. It’s useful to have a neutral, impartial person overseeing the discussion so you stay on track, and can identify the areas where you agree and disagree. He or she may assist you in seeing the dispute from the other shareholder’s point of view, enabling you to work toward compromise. The mediator facilitates communication by helping you recognize and avoid the emotions that can act as roadblocks to reaching an agreement.

You Decide in Mediation: If you file a lawsuit in a shareholder or partner dispute, you put your case in the hands of a judge or jury to decide based upon Florida law. After applying legal principles, the end result is a verdict that may not be as you – or any other parties to the lawsuit – intend. In mediation, you and the other individuals discuss your unresolved issues and work toward a compromise together. You make the decisions, not the mediator, so you have more control over the final outcome.

A Mediation Agreement is Enforceable: When you do reach a compromise during mediation over a shareholder or partner dispute, the agreement is put into writing and signed by all parties. The accord is a binding document with the legal impact of a contract, so it is enforceable if someone breaches the terms. The damaged party can file a lawsuit for breach of contract and obtain monetary or injunctive relief.

Mediation is Confidential: Unlike court proceedings, all matters discussed during mediation are private. When you retain a certified professional, he or she must abide by Florida’s Rules for Court-Ordered and Certified Mediators, which state that a mediator must maintain confidentiality of all information revealed during the proceedings. There are exceptions where disclosure is required or permitted by law, or where the parties agree that certain issues are not confidential.

In most cases, you can still go to court if mediation doesn’t work, but the process is effective in solving a wide array of legal matters in partner and shareholder disputes. If you think your circumstances are suitable for mediation, it’s important to retain a qualified professional to oversee the proceedings. Please contact the Tampa office of Feldman Mediation & Arbitration Services to discuss your situation and hear more about our mediation offerings.

Resource:

flcourts.org/resources-and-services/alternative-dispute-resolution/mediation.stml

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