Mediation Case Study: Solving an Automotive Industry Dispute
Sector. Automotive Manufacturing
Mediator. Stephen Bate
Value. £500,000 – £20 million
Outcome. The manufacturer acknowledged the way the agreement had been ended was not ideal and agreed to pay the distributor a sum of £500,000.
In this case study, a longstanding manufacturer-distributor relationship in the competitive motorcycle market faced a sudden and challenging end. The distributor, feeling insulted by the abrupt termination, filed a legal claim for £20 million based on loss of supply and a competition-related refusal to supply.
Prior to the mediation, legal proceedings had not yet commenced. The Mediator decided this presented a great and timely opportunity to delve into the context of the breakdown, understand the grievances of both parties, and uncover crucial information that could reshape the course of the dispute.
Key Moment in the Mediation
During the mediation, a seemingly irrelevant document, a hand-delivered letter explaining the termination under the contract clause, held the key to understanding the distributors’ discontent. Recognising this, the mediator convened a joint meeting during which the manufacturer was able to confidentially express sincere acknowledgements of errors and apologise to the distributor. They were also able to outline and explain the wider commercial context, discussing how strategic business plans resulted in the necessity to terminate the relationship.
This pivotal meeting became the turning point in the mediation process.
The manufacturers expressed regret for the less-than-ideal termination method and proposed a fair settlement to end the dispute. While unable to meet the £20 million claim, they offered a substantial sum, £500,000 to bring the case to a close and avoid the risk and cost of a lengthy court battle.
This case study highlights the many benefits of mediation in resolving complex business disputes. By choosing mediation, the manufacturer and distributor were able to avoid the uncertainty, expense, and time-consuming nature of litigation.
They were also able to reach a mutually beneficial agreement that preserved their dignity and relationship.