None of our estate dispute cases have proceeded to trial. Instead they have been resolved at a court-appointed mediation or shortly afterwards.
As a client of Hentys Lawyers, it’s important to fully understand the process of mediation and the role it is likely to play in your case.
WHAT IS MEDIATION?
Mediation is a confidential meeting that takes place between the parties in an estate dispute case, where a lawyer (or suitably qualified professional) facilitates discussion as a Mediator. It is the most common form of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Victoria; used to reconcile disputed will cases without the need for going to court.
The aim of mediation is to get both parties to agree on a settlement that is satisfactory to each side without the need for a lengthy court battle. Once a settlement has been mutually agreed upon, the terms of the agreement will be formally documented and signed by both parties.
WHO ATTENDS MEDIATION?
The Executor of the Estate will attend the mediation session with the individual or individuals who are contesting the Will. Each party should also have a lawyer present who will represent their best interests. The Mediator will also be present who will act as a neutral third party.
WHAT DOES THE MEDIATOR DO?
The Mediator’s role is to guide the discussion, ensure a proper process is followed, assist with the settlement discussions, and take an active role in endeavouring to reach a mutually acceptable settlement. They will remain impartial throughout the proceedings and encourage both sides to consider different viewpoints with the aim of helping the parties reach a mutually satisfactory solution.
It is not the Mediator’s role to give legal advice, and the Mediator does not have the authority to make any decisions regarding the settlement.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MEDIATION?
Mediation offers a quicker resolution to the dispute, with both parties incurring fewer costs. It is informal, and as such the parties do not have to follow complex legal procedures and can reach a settlement that doesn’t have to conform to legal precedent or any rules of law. Mediation can also be less damaging to the relationship of the parties as it is less stressful and not so emotionally draining.
Mediation can also be useful to both parties even if an agreement cannot be reached and the matter proceeds to a Court hearing, as it will enable the parties to clarify and narrow down the key issues, which can lead to a shortened hearing.
HOW HENTYS LAWYERS ASSIST IN MEDIATION
At Hentys Lawyers, we have handled a whole variety of estate dispute cases during our many years in the field. Initially we will advise you if your case is suitable for mediation, and if it is, we will describe the entire process to you in plain English.
We handle all the communication with the other party, and negotiate with them on your behalf, both in the lead up to the mediation and during the session. We will prepare your matter for mediation, providing you with appropriate legal advice and ensuring your best interests are represented for the duration of the case.
In the event that a satisfactory agreement is reached, we will also draft up a settlement agreement. Contact our team for more information.