A partner at South West-based chartered accountancy firm Milsted Langdon is urging families in dispute to settle their differences via mediation rather than pursuing costly and time-consuming court action.
Roger Isaacs, an experienced CEDR-accredited mediator, made the call after he used mediation to resolve a particularly complex farming family dispute in a day when it might otherwise have taken months or even years in the courts.
The case involved a group of sisters arguing over their late father’s will and the neighbouring properties in which they had an interest. Roger undertook what is known as ‘shuttle diplomacy’, whereby he moved from room to room speaking to each party individually until an agreement was reached.
He said: “There are few disputes as acrimonious as those involving families, farms, probate and neighbouring properties, so this one certainly ticked all the boxes.
“It was the sort of dispute which could quite easily have incurred vast and disproportionate costs in terms of litigation, but I managed to broker a settlement in a day, with both parties coming away satisfied with the outcome.
“With an increasing number of families falling out over wills and other money matters, it can be tempting for some to turn to the courts as a first port of call. However, litigation can be a long and costly process which can leave both parties without a satisfactory outcome. Mediation allows the parties to keep control of the process rather than having to submit to the uncertainties and risks of a court-imposed solution. The parties are able to come to an agreement in a much quicker timescale and at a fraction of the cost of court proceedings.
“I would urge anyone thinking of settling a family dispute via the courts to think twice and consider whether or not other options, such as mediation, might be more productive and cost-effective instead.”