The importance of mediation as a way of settling business and commercial disputes was highlighted at an event organised by the Law Society of Northern Ireland and the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution in London.
The Law Society, which represents 2,000 solicitors around Northern Ireland, said mediation could bring results which met the needs of parties while also saving time, expense and the stress of litigation.
Ahead of last night's event, Brian Speers, incoming president of the Law Society, said it was promoting commercial mediation to the wider business community as well as members of the society.
"In these difficult economic times businesses in Northern Ireland and further afield are looking for solutions to their disputes and will expect advisers to present the most appropriate, cost-effective and practical options and will enable clients to elect the approach which best meets their interests.
"Mediation recognises these commercial realities and offers a quality and effective process for dealing with often difficult issues.
"In addition, commercial mediation can resolve disputes while maintaining or rebuilding personal and business relationships. The Society has been proactive in developing mediation training programmes and equipping our members with the necessary skills and knowledge which will be needed to undertake commercial mediation."
A dispute resolution service provided by the society also trains solicitors interested in offering commercial mediation to clients.
The Society, through its dispute resolution service, has provided training to solicitors interested in offering commercial mediation and has endeavoured to increase awareness among businesses and in the courts.