Imagine a situation when two parties are in geographically distant places and in the course of transaction, there is a dispute or of a contract that originated online. The parties may not have met at all. It is easy to initiate the dialogue through a mediator who offers online service when the parties could communicate through email, or conference audio/ video calls and secure redressals. Many vendors of goods and services offer online mediation simultaneously in the event of any differences and there, consumer satisfaction and a quick resolution process will leave both parties satisfied. Parties exchange documents through emails with the mediator helping them identify the underlying interest. Emails allow time to respond with sound articulation after measured thinking, which a face to face meeting would not provide. Where parties have different positions or different abilities of pushing their ways in personal meetings, email talks can level the playing field.
The flip side is that the talks are less spontaneous, offer no scope for discerning body language or in-person signals. A warm handshake or meeting the adversary in her eye may not happen. The absence of mediator’s presence who can instantly identify digressions and bring the parties back to track will be sorely missed. That could be more than compensated by a feeling for the party that she was herself responsible for the successful outcome, a strategy that will leave concerns of enforceability of the settlement at bay and it could be expected that it is more likely to be honoured than when it is a third party judgment or intercession.
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