As handshakes are replaced with head nods and the economic impact of the COVID19 pandemic begins to take hold in the UK, businesses need to be more innovative now than ever before. It is difficult to comprehend how quickly things have moved on in the last two weeks, and the speed with which UK businesses are going to need to react to make the best of whatever economic position we find ourselves in.

Whilst the UK is not yet in official lockdown, businesses have already been urged to implement social distancing by ordering employees to work from home. And further social distancing measures are only going to increase in the weeks to come. 

Dispute resolution will be a vital part of propping up the Scottish and UK economy whilst we ride the curve, and it will be crucial to economic recovery when the curve peaks and begins to flatten. Unresolved conflict is bad for businesses, economic development and recovery. As economic conditions remain uncertain, many businesses are already considering ways to cut costs, additional funding needs or implementing restructuring advice. Differences and disputes need to be resolved efficiently and cost effectively. Online negotiation and mediation are viable options. 

We can all agree that in a perfect world face to face negotiations and mediations are the ideal scenario. But online negotiations and mediations also have their benefits. Increased convenience through virtual meetings. Increased opportunities to create space in communications. Reduced travel and hosting costs, carbon emissions and travel time. And, significantly, no risk of spreading infectious diseases. 

Zoom, Skype and other virtual communication platforms are used daily by businesses across the globe. Many CEOs, executives, mediators and negotiators advocate that such technologies facilitate successful rapport building, despite participants not being in the same room. Adobe Sign and similar packages provide secure e-signature capabilities and documents can be shared in online portals or via email. Like anything, it can be difficult to embrace change. Of course, we may soon have no choice.

From 23 March 2020, Squaring Circles will be offering a new Online Mediation service, including telephone mediation for certain cases. Please email [email protected] for more information about these services.


Squaring Circles is the trading name of Squaring Circles Dispute Management Limited, registered in Scotland. Registration number SC641319. Registered office at Caledonian Exchange, 19A Canning Street, Edinburgh EH3 8HE.

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