In Quebec a non-profit organization called “Tax Mediation Association”, founded by five woman provides mediation services for provincial tax disputes. The philosophy behind the organization is that it promotes not only an alternative way to resolve tax disputes but users find peace at the end of the day when their particular tax issue is resolved.
And the new service seems to be working. One distraught taxpayer threatened suicide feeling completely overwhelmed by their tax situation. The individual is a farmer deeply in debt who had lost his appeal at court and threatened to kill himself. The service stepped in and created a compromise that both parties could accept. The impact of the settlement is obvious – it saved a life and promoted peace. The objective of the project seems to be truly being met.
The project has included 25 participants and so far appears to be a success. It was designed to deal with tax claims that have a significant impact on small business and individuals. The project has brought civility and fairness to the system which seemed to lacking. It also has brought with it efficiency to a overburdened provincial tax system in Quebec.
The projects illustrates once again how mediation can provide a much better solution for all involved.
Critically thinking about how to resolve disputes should be an important part of our lives. In our daily activities we come across lots of conflict which we have to resolve sometimes very quickly. Many work places have a dispute resolution mechanism available to deal with employee disputes.
For those that own their own business, thinking about how to resolve a variety of disputes is very important to the well-being of the business. Where a business has more than one owner, a shareholder’s agreement or partnership agreement are always recommended. These types of agreements may have boiler plate dispute resolution mechanisms contained within them that from time may have to be used. In many instances, it may mean arbitration will be used and binding upon the parties. Whatever the mechanism employed, it is important that dispute resolution is contemplated between all the parties to the agreement.
Business owners should also ensure that when contracting with clients and third parties for services or equipment that these arrangements also contain dispute resolution clauses. Thinking ahead as to possible disputes and how best to resolve them is a good way to contemplate how to deal with future issues. Having a plan also ensures that you can discuss this with clients and third parties and ensure that everyone understands how dispute resolution will be used to resolve a dispute. While a business owner cannot contemplate every possible conflict that may arise, they can at least engage in the exercise to think about the most likely scenarios that could potentially lead to an issue. Working through this process will also mean that they can determine which type of resolution mechanism will work best. In some situations mediation may work. The nature of how the mediation will be conducted will be an important consideration. Will the mediator facilitate discussion to reach settlement or will they take an evaluative approach? Depending upon the issues, one or both types of approaches may apply. As well, arbitration may be the best mechanism to determine a dispute. Perhaps the parties need to have a binding decision to best meet the resolution of the conflict.
Whatever choice a business owner makes thinking through it is a good way to ensure relationship are preserved and issues dealt with as quickly and cost effectively as possible. Considering alternative dispute resolution in the business context just makes good sense!