Conflict mediation services for Business-to-Consumer cases
“Doctor, the patient has a problem…”
We all heard it: something was said and something different was actually done;
or “the results are disappointing, I didn’t expect that”,
or “they promised me this and that and look what I got…”.
These are all too familiar cases derived mostly from misunderstandings, miscommunication or due to inaccurate or incomplete “expectations management”.
Nevertheless, the consequences for a patient (consumer) can be quite significant, if not devastating.
The opposite can also be true simply because sometimes, it is just the overactive drive to expect amazing and surreal results even if that is strictly no longer possible.
Sadly such disagreements can degenerate into lengthy and inconvenient cases that involve state-run health authorities, more controls, more hassle and/or hefty fines, not to mention expensive lawsuits.
Overall, it can be an unpleasant, time-consuming and frustrating experience, for both the patient and for the clinic.
What to do?
In theory, the way to solving all disagreements should be simple; an amicable meeting between parties should suffice.
In practice however, it’s another story.
The clinic rep suddenly doesn’t ‘have time’ for a meeting, the lead doctor is ‘away’, things are just not working together anymore.
Tempers tend to flare and before you know it, it’s war.
When all efforts to resolve the matter using friendly discussions fail, an unsatisfied patient has three options: waging a personal vendetta against the clinic, going to court or opting for mediation by a neutral 3rd party that has no conflict of interest.
Needless to say, the first option may be terribly time and resource-consuming (if not outright ineffective); the second can prove to be a very expensive endeavor so let’s focus on the 3rd option.
The procedure of mediation involves bringing the matter before a mediation board.
Just like with a lawsuit, prior to discussing the matter with both parties, the mediation board must receive the complaint file.
The complaint file forwarded by the plaintiff (the patient in this case) must contain:
- the litigating parties (e.g. who is who, exact identification of the companies involved and of their representatives);
- a brief description of the conflict that arose between parties;
- the request of the plaintiff pertaining to what exactly is desired to be achieved;
- an elaborate description of the background facts and of the situation that led to the conflict;
- a description of the ways parties used to solve the conflict;
- supporting evidence attached to the file, such as documents, pictures, testimonies, basically anything which ‘proves the case’.
In turn the opposed party, the defendant, must submit a written reply to the stated conflict and present their view upon the matter.
When both files are submitted, the mediation board will analyze the files and study the matter at hand.
The mediation procedure can not be filed ex parte (outside the awareness of a party).
The mediation procedure can not be executed in absentia, hence both parties must be willing to participate and be present at the session.
The mediation procedure takes place in private sessions, without public or media attending to it.
If required, the mediation board may ask parties to join in a meeting, in camera, to further discuss the matter.
At the end of the deliberations, the mediation board issues a statement about its position regarding the issue at hand and will present conclusions along with specific recommendations for each party. The outcome of the mediation is binding for insofar both parties agree to it being executed to close the case. A written agreement is then drafted and signed by both parties.
Not fulfilling the stipulations of the agreement can weigh heavily against the infringing party, due to the fact that FUE Europe has an international reach amongst its members. Although the mediation sessions are private and no specific details about the nature of the conflict or of the settlements are published on the association’s web site, the organization has the obligation to inform its members upon their written request about the pending litigations, their status and their outcome.
No ‘lightly’ matter
The mediation procedure is not to be taken lightly, as due diligence is required. The mediation board will require ample evidence to sustain the claims, such as financial records, contracts, signed agreements, photographic evidence, written testimonies and will verify the accuracy of such documents. Presenting inaccurate or incomplete information may lead to the invalidation of the case and to a negative outcome for the contributing party. Additionally, all inconsistencies are recorded in the case file and are made available to both parties. Such incidences could potentially be used in a lawsuit in the future and they do not weigh well in the favor of the contravening party.
As tempting as it may be to file for mediation, not all cases qualify for being reviewed by the mediation board.
Cases that involve the death of a person, major persistent trauma, permanent personal injury, gross negligence, bankruptcy or criminal offenses, can not be handled in mediation procedures. In such cases we recommend retaining an attorney and proceeding in court.
Cost of mediation for Business-to-Consumer cases
Mediation costs are vastly lower than a law suit and they vary depending on the amount of work required to handle a specific case, from 3000 euro for extra camera proceedings, up to 6000 euro for complex procedures that require multiple in camera meetings. Unlike a lawsuit, the costs of the mediation procedure are shared equally, by both parties.
To submit a Business-to-Consumer case file for mediation please download the files below.