Business neighbours at loggerheads
There were two very old warehouses in a depressed part of the city. In one, a car resprayer had scratched a living for years. In the other, a smart architects’ practice had remodelled the building with a mezzanine floor (of course!) and completed the project by tarmacking the muddy yard between the two premises, and marking out parking spaces.
There were two problems. First, the parking spaces blocked both a public right of way and access to the resprayer’s premises. Second, the yard sloped down to the resprayer’s workshop, so that every time it rained he had to mop it out; you can’t spray cars in a puddle. The resprayer (the claimant) had lodged an expert report claiming a loss of £100,000, which was really just a cry for help.
So how did the mediation go?
The parties hated each other so much that, at the start, they refused to sit in the same room; they hadn’t spoken for 10 years. So Chris had to mediate to persuade each of them to attend the joint session.
Chris saw that at heart the problem was the location of the parking spaces. He took the parties down to the yard on a cold, drizzly November day to measure them and, bit by bit, the architect agreed to remove the parking spaces which caused obstruction. He also agreed to pay for a new drain, to take the surface water away from the claimant’s workshop.
The architect still had plenty of parking spaces, and the drain was to be installed at modest cost. The claimant had a workshop which he could use even when it rained, and he was happy to withdraw the inflated loss of profit claim. The parties even left the mediation on speaking terms.