The best time to mediate will depend upon the dispute, the parties and their lawyers.  There is a risk that in mediating too early, not all of the issues will have been identified.  In particular, lawyers may be concerned that insufficient disclosure may have taken place for them to have been able to properly assess the strengths and weaknesses of the case.  However, mediating too late is likely to mean that the costs will have increased so much that the only way out is to take the claim too trial.

Accordingly, in most cases, the best time to mediate is:
  • before the parties have become too entrenched to settle;
  • before legal costs have become hurdles to settlement;
  • after all of the issues have been identified;
  • after there has been sufficient disclosure (perhaps voluntary disclosure) to enable each party and their lawyers to assess the merits and weakness of their case; and
  • after all potential parties have been joined into the claim.