An alarming number of both legal and domestic conflicts are launched by warring neighbours, where the appointment of a trained mediator could have resolved the differences in a myriad of ways, says PJ Veldhuizen, managing director of Gillan & Veldhuizen.
According to Veldhuizen, the win/lose nature of litigation means that, while one party may be restrained from certain behaviour or forced to take certain remedial action, it will do little to foster good neighbourly relations.
"There inevitably comes a time when we have a dispute of some kind with our neighbours, be it the yapping dog, the loud music, the tree that sheds copious amounts of leaves or a obstructs your view, the cat who poops in your garden, the incessant fighting, the roar of the lawn mower on an early Sunday morning, a dripping tap – you name it," comments Veldhuizen.
"But how you choose to handle it can make all the difference in relationships with your neighbours."
Veldhuizen explains that the purpose of a mediation is not to continue the animosity between the parties but to rather find a common ground, temper emotions and ease tension.
In his view, it also has the added benefit of creating an environment where further disputes are unlikely to occur and where dialogue can take that place.
Mediation costs are typically split pro-rata according to the means of the parties, and this should be dealt with in the mediation agreement.
"One of the big things about mediation is that it doesn’t just focus on what the law says – it deals with the equities as well – deciding on what is best at the time, based on merit and circumstances," says Veldhuizen.