Rights of way and access rights are often the cause of disputes between neighbours, and can be solved by alternative dispute resolution/mediation. Quite often if the dispute is nipped early then it will be a mediation which concludes in half a day.
If at this stage you're wondering what the title of the blog has to do with the above comment, let me take you to Rome, no, not the one in Italy, but the one in Central Maine.
It is here that the access to the Tuttle Cemetery is causing a problem between local land owner, Peter Fotter, and the town council.
It seems that Mr Fotter has, for reasons unknown, began to block the access route on his property to the cemetery with rubble and dirt to the extent that no vehicle can pass down the road and has made it nearly impossible to approach on foot.
The town has issued an application for summary judgement, seeking an order that Mr Fotter has no case at all and is in the wrong.
Despite the council's perceived overwhelming case they have still felt it appropriate to try and save the public purse in terms of time and money by entering mediation with Mr Fotter. The mediation is due to take place at the end of the month, at which point hopefully an agreement will be reached and access to the cemetery become easier again.
At Northwest Mediation we often find that both parties believe their case is overwhelming but after discussing the risks of any litigation set against the stress, costs and delay of fighting a dispute all the way to court that they would rather reach an agreement through mediation.
Parties can be unwilling to take part in mediation, it remains a voluntary process, or are unwilling to discuss the reasons behind their position it can be that they are not yet ready for mediation. So it is important to remember that if little progress is made during the first attempt at mediation there is no bar on trying again, and again at any stage of the dispute.