Before you get offended, I know that COVID is still around and people are still getting sick. But not quite as sick as they were in 2020/21. We understand a lot more about the virus than we did before, and we have returned to gathering. Hence the title.
Today, our personal injury law firm settled a car accident case at mediation. It was a global mediation, meaning that both the tort claims (pain and suffering agains the at fault driver) and the accident benefit claims were at issue.
The mediation took place over Zoom. Between the adjusters, mediators and lawyers, there were 9 participants to the mediation.
All of this is not unusual.
Before Zoom, a mediation involving 9 participants would have required 1 main room, along with 2-3 breakout rooms. It would have needed some sort of catered lunch. It would have taken place at a hotel. One party lived in Penetanguishene, another in Grand Bend, another in London and others in the GTA. All of the parties would have needed to travel to a central location for the mediation; and perhaps stay overnight. The travel costs and room booking fees for all of the parties would be high; and would increase in the cost of the mediation and litigation.
Instead, all of the parties were able to do the mediation from the comfort of their own home; or offices. There was no need for anyone to leave early to catch a train home. Sometimes, those “leave early” to catch a train times worked out quite well. It forced the parties to cut to the chase and put out their best numbers earlier on in the process.
When the mediation was over, all of the 9 parties hit the “Leave Meeting” button on their screens and we were all back to where we all started. No travel time incurred or lost. Everyone was able to move on to their next task.
Leaving that mediation, I couldn’t help but think about the ways we conducted mediations before the Pandemic. There are a lot of moving parts for a mediation. Getting 9 people under the same roof in the same City or Town was never easy. Parties were always late for one reason or another. Whether it was traffic, bad weather, train or flight delays, or simply getting lost. That was the norm.
Nowadays, the norm for mediation delays in the Zoom era is poor internet connections which seem easier and much quicker to fix.