One of the many advantages of a Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) is that proceedings take place without the need for lawyers. But while formal legal training is not required to participate in the mediation process, a degree of preparation is certainly recommended.
Once a claim has been filed with the SCT and the defendant has filed their defence, a “Consultation” will be arranged where both parties can meet to attempt to settle the dispute with the help of a certified mediator.
Ahead of this informal, private meeting, parties are advised to:
Double check that the DIFC Courts and the SCT have jurisdiction over your dispute and submit proof to the SCT Registry in advance of the Consultation
Bring valid identification and a letter from your company authorising you to act on their behalf
Email your preferred Consultation and Hearing dates to the SCT Registry, who will try their best to accommodate the parties within reason and without allowing excessive delay. Also ensure the other party is copied on all correspondence with the SCT Registry
Request any additional information needed from the other party in advance so you can fully think about your settlement options
Think about what terms you are interested in obtaining in a settlement, taking into consideration the time and money required to move forward to a Hearing. It is often valuable to finish a case today rather than move on to a Hearing. Try to forget the personal aspects of the dispute and assess the costs to your business
Be creative about potential settlement terms. Sometimes parties are unable to pay immediately but may have other services to offer instead or may be able to refer additional business or make testimonials. All offers and admissions made in the Consultation are confidential and will not be shared with a Judge moving forward, so this is an opportunity to think creatively in order to come to an agreement
While many cases are resolved at the Consultation, approximately some percent will need to progress to the next phase of the process. So in our next post we will look at tips for preparing for a SCT Hearing