We've had a few queries in the last month or so regarding mediation in terms of recovering a few hundred pounds from other parties - just last week there was one poor lady who had received a sofa which wasn't as described and she wanted a refund of around £350, and a gentleman was owed a similar amount resulting from a joint tenancy agreement. On each occasion we've pointed the parties towards the best options for them both.
This got us thinking that maybe it's best to briefly describe our views on the best actions to take in situations where the amount involved is less than £1,000, as whilst we are always happy to help anybody who is going through these stressful situations, at this financial level there are more cost-effective solutions to explore first to avoid the money you recover being spent on professional mediation.
The small claims court is a low-hassle way of taking action against a company or individual who owes you up to £10,000, and the process is as simple as some online form-filling and a small application fee based on the value of the claim (£60 at the time of writing for a claim of £1,000). You can read here about the whole process.
The main point from a mediation perspective is that mediation will normally be offered as part of the process at no extra charge. Where there is a claim going to the small claims court we would suggest that this offer of mediation is taken up. Whilst the format is very different and less comprehensive than what we do the principle is the same.
The difference in mediation through the small claims court is that whilst we would meet face-to-face for normally a full day, this mediation is done over the telephone and is normally restricted to one hour. Whilst this is much less time and less personable, it is still effective and very often works - which is why we would recommend trying it first for relatively small claims. There's nothing to worry about at all, you don't even have to speak to the other party, just the Mediator - all you have to do is dedicate an hour on the phone and have an open mind to wanting to resolve the issue.
If this process doesn't result in a settlement you haven't lost any options - you can still go to court or, if both parties agree, we can still hold face-to-face mediation for a day to help you both reach a settlement. Clearly the costs of mediation will need to be balanced against the amount you are claiming - feel free to call us if you need to discuss this.
You can read more about how mediation works generally, or more specifically in situations that are either in work or outside work. If you want to know more about the people who you'd be doing the mediation you can also read more about our Mediators.