Environmental awareness has been growing internationally for decades now, slowly becoming the normal everyday approach to decisions as far-ranging as the cars we drive to the light bulbs we use. While engagement in environmentally-sound practices varies from individual to individual, the environment is on everyone’s mind in almost every aspect of modern life.
When disputes involving environmental concerns erupt, passions often run very high. This is partly due to an old and inaccurate attitude that environmentally-minded people are tiny David’s fighting against the uncaring corporate Goliath, and partly due to the confusing and often contradictory mass of information and data, making it difficult to state clearly who is right in any given scenario. One thing is certain, however: Mediating environmental disputes is almost always preferable to litigation.
The Confused Law
One reason why environmental dispute mediation is the better than litigation is the chaotic state of much environmental law all across the planet. Laws are only as good as the language they use and the data they are based on, and the ongoing controversies surrounding many environmental issues have resulted in laws that are frequently too vaguely worded, years out of date, or simply not used as originally intended. Litigation over environmental issues is unpredictable, as it is subject to interpretation and subjective judgments on the part of judges or juries.
Benefits of Mediation
Mediation, on the other hand, leaves control over the situation in the hands of the parties involved, giving them total freedom to seek an acceptable solution to their dispute. Unlike litigation, which locks them into often unsatisfactory or ineffective penalties or a narrow range of solutions that are satisfactory to no one, mediation allows the parties to craft a truly useful solution that addresses the concerns of both sides.
Additionally, when mediation is chosen as a first attempt at resolution, it leaves open the possibility of litigation if mediation fails to resolve the dispute. This can not only be a fallback solution in case every other effort fails, it can also act as motivation for one or both parties to negotiate in good faith and renewed energy to avoid the costly and chaotic adventure in a courtroom.
When it comes to environmental disputes, the goal is to protect the planet and its vital resources, not to get bogged down paying attorney’s fees. As a result, it is almost always best to pursue a mediated solution instead of litigation.