Complex cases—those that involve numerous parties; complicated technical, scientific, or industry-specific issues; and/or large dollar amounts—may at first appear to present insurmountable obstacles to mediation. Yet these are precisely the sort of cases that call out for mediation. In these major cases, the cost of litigation, both in terms of dollars and the time involvement of the parties’ key personnel, can easily overwhelm even a sophisticated and successful business. The negative publicity and hard feelings among the parties in a high-profile commercial case can affect business development and future business opportunities. The public nature of litigation, with its open hearings and accompanying public access to court documents, can subject parties to inaccurate media reports and unwanted public scrutiny. Mediation, when structured and handled appropriately, can mitigate or avoid many of these collateral consequences of litigation.
Complex cases, however, call for careful consideration in order to structure a successful mediation. This article will outline some particular issues and practical tips to keep in mind when mediating a complex case.