The argument for mediation


It is only a question of time before attempts to resolve disputes between commercial parties begin with them sitting across a table to talk with a mediator’s help, says Sriram Panchu

The problems of resolving disputes through an adversarial court system in India are widely acknowledged. A dispute can take years, and sometimes decades, to be resolved. It is estimated that more than 35 million cases are pending in courts across the country. Apart from the time, parties are drained by the costs and damaged relationships. The result at the end may not even be satisfactory to either party. Arbitration that was first touted as an alternative to litigation too has failed on many counts; it has become expensive, procedural and time consuming.

Today, the fastest growing method of dispute resolution is mediation. Over the last 20 years, it has taken deep roots in several countries across the globe and is being used to resolve a wide variety of personal, property, commercial and corporate disputes. The time spent in mediation is fractional compared to the adversarial process. It is comparatively inexpensive. The process is also respectful of relationships, which is of primordial importance in the business world. It focuses on getting quick and practical solutions and encourages the disputants themselves to participate in generating options for settlement. All in all, it appears to be ideally suited for the resolution of commercial disputes.

Sriram Panchu
Sriram Panchu

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process of dispute resolution in which the mediator, a neutral, helps parties in arriving at a solution that is acceptable to all the parties. The process is designed to be risk-free as the outcome of the mediation is in the hands of the parties.

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Sriram Panchu is a senior advocate of Madras High Court and a leading commercial mediator. He was instrumental in the creation of India’s first court-annexed mediation centre at Madras High Court. Avni Rastogi assisted in preparing this article. For more information see or contact