It’s a common misconception that every lawsuit ends up before a judge and jury (as we commonly see on TV and in the movies). Instead, most legal cases are settled out-of-court, through an agreement among the parties.
In my nine years of litigating real estate disputes, most (if not all) legal disputes should be resolved without the need for trial. The time and enormous expense of litigating a case can often be avoided through a mutual settlement.
Parties often have the option of going into mediation in an attempt to resolve a legal dispute. Mediation is where both parties meet with a trained facilitator, who attempts to find a resolution for the problem. The facilitator, known as the mediator, is often a lawyer who has direct experience with legal issues concerning the dispute at hand.
In some courts, such as Housing Court, there are court staff mediators available to offer mediation free of charge. Parties are generally free to also hire their own mediator and do mediation on their own terms.
Here, I’ll discuss real estate mediations and some tips for handling these particular types of disputes.
Real Estate Disputes Aren’t Always Just About Real Estate
In the many real estate mediations I have participated in, I’ve learned an important lesson: real estate disputes aren’t always just about real estate. Many times, particularly with boundary disputes, there are other matters that have led to the underlying problem between the parties.
This is important to keep in mind when attempting to resolve such disputes. In such matters, mediation can be particularly helpful, as it allows the parties to have an open and frank discussion about the matter at hand—and not just about the law itself.
Take Advantage of the Confidentiality Rules for Mediation
Mediation is confidential. Communications made during mediation cannot come before the court. The purpose of this is to encourage the parties to freely discuss the issues at hand, without worrying about such conversations coming up a trial.
For this reason, when involved in a real estate mediation, parties can and should be upfront about their thoughts on the case. Doing so can move the matter towards a resolution, without risk to either side.
Compromise, Compromise, Compromise!
No one has ever walked out of a successful mediation believing they scored a home run. For a successful settlement, both parties need to give up something. For this reason, compromise is a must for any real estate mediation.
If you need assistance with a real estate matter, contact me for a consultation.