Thursday, September 11, 2014

Non-Monetary Concessions in Mediation: Can they be Effective?

Believe it or not, lawsuits are not always brought merely for money.  Sometimes, a gesture of good faith, a sign of understanding, a non-monetary, symbolic concession can make all of the difference.  It sounds trite, yet many of my colleagues in the International Academy of Mediators have chimed in to a dialogue about the interesting array of non-monetary concessions they have witnessed in settling the highest level of legal disputes.
In my own practice, I had an interesting real estate dispute between neighbors over the rights to use of a parcel of land between them.  The Plaintiffs were seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars as damages, claiming that the value of their property had been substantially diminished.  As an interesting, creative offer, the lawyer for one of the parties offered to purchase the property from the Plaintiffs at a substantial increase from their purchase price.  Although they did not accept his offer, they did recognize that perhaps the property they thought had diminished in value, had in fact appreciated.   Rather than holding a clouded property, they now saw it as the gem they first endeavored to buy.  It was just that minor shift that opened the gates towards a reasonable settlement.
What are some of the creative ways that you've seen settlements occur that work effectively?