You have to be crazy or very rich to try to resolve a dispute in court. It is really akin to two people playing “Chicken” driving their cars towards one another, hoping that the other guy swerves. Very few cases go to trial or are decided by a judge. The fighting parties get worn down by the expense and fatigue of fighting.

Legal costs related to fighting in court are enormous. The costs to hire a lawyer to act in a Small Claims Court (with a monetary jurisdiction cap of $25,000) can be as expensive as proceeding in a higher court such as the Ontario Superior Court. The lawyer has to prepare, review, respond and attend to matters related to a court proceeding, regardless of which court.

A Small Claims Court proceeding is supposed to be a process that a party can avail themselves of without the necessity of a lawyer. A party can do so, but it’s not so simple and it’s time consuming, complicated and frustrating.

A very real, effective alternative to going to court is to use the assistance of a good, experienced mediator or arbitrator that has been properly trained and knows how to conduct an effective mediation or arbitration. If both parties are willing, a settlement can be quicker and more cost effective. Very often, if the parties in dispute are serious about resolving their differences, I recommend using an impartial third party, knowledgeable in the area involved. That process is minimalist, quick and efficient. The parties would agree that the decision of the mediator/arbitrator/adjudicator would be binding on the parties and the parties would be able to utilize their lawyers in the proceeding. Each side presents their side of the story, the adjudicator may ask questions and then he or she renders a decision. There can also be witnesses. Both sides share the costs of the adjudicator. A mediator has special skills and experience. It is critical to retain the right one.

You want peace and harmony. To get it, you may need the advice of someone with the right experience.