9 Professional Circle
Colts Neck, New Jersey 07722-2427
P: +1 732.414.6600 : M: +1 732.693.8797
F: +1 732.414.6599
Mediation is the process of a neutral person (the mediator) assisting the parties in finding the common ground between them and then using that common ground to craft a resolution that both sides can live with. It is a confidential process that does not require the extraordinary expense of litigation and can result in better, more cost-effective, resolution in a fraction of the time it would otherwise take and at a significantly reduced cost.
In the yachting world mediation may, for example, involve a refit having gone wrong, with the Owner complaining of inferior work and overcharges while the shipyard is complaining of poor specifications, unanticipated changes and slow payments. The obvious common ground, at a minimum, is getting the yacht out of the shipyard and the conflicts eliminated. A good mediator will work off of these common grounds to assist the parties in addressing each of their concerns in a productive manner.
However, the most significant frustration with mediation is that there are an extraordinarily few mediators that are experienced with yacht or superyacht matters. They may be experienced mediators, but without the special knowledge of the many nuances and practices in our industry they are hard-pressed to effectively assist. In fact, without the appropriate background much time and effort can be wasted trying to explain that which is obvious to the experienced yacht industry mediator resulting in a frustrating and ineffective experience.
Eric J. Goldring brings the highest level of knowledge and sophistication to yacht and superyacht mediation having shipboard, shipyard, yacht management, chartering and legal experience. This provides the parties with the ability to reduce conflict resolution costs and time significantly while increasing their confidence that the mediator has a sufficient background to truly understand the issues and assist in the formulation of economically and practically viable solutions.
From An Owner’s Perspective:
There is an old saying, “The best day of a yacht owner’s life is the day he buys his yacht. The second best day is when he sells it.” While there is, unfortunately, some truth to that saying, it does not have to be that way.
A yacht is a very personal statement and it is also expensive. So what is the greatest issue in owning a yacht? Owning a yacht. From concept to completion, charting to chartering, crewing to commissions, there are issues everywhere and more opinions on how to address them than an inexperienced – or even experienced – yacht owner can expend the time, effort or emotions on. And if there is an insurance claim things can get even more complicated.
When an Owner comes to me ready to litigate a matter to the end, I ask a simple question, “How much do you want to pay me to be right?” The problem, of course, is that tens of thousands (or more) dollars or euros expended in litigation doesn’t make the yacht function better or the cause the experience to be more enjoyable… and if it does, it usually takes years and results bitter taste for yachting.
There is, of course, the real question that never seems to be asked, “What exactly do you believe ‘right’ is?” In other words, is the resolution of the dispute in your favor what “right” means to you or is it finding a way to use you yacht for the reason you purchased it to begin with: The enjoyment of one of the stylistically and technically innovative personal statements ever created?
Having experience with captains, engineers, project managers, shipyards, surveyors and insurance adjusters that mean well (usually), I know that there is a difference between what they say and actually presenting the Owner with all of the facts, possible options and the true costs of being “right”. That may be as a result of a lack of knowledge, fear of losing one’s job, a myopic approach, etc., but in the imperfect world of yachting it is well-established that competing perspectives unfortunately result in significant, if avoidable, conflicts.
My reputation is to “call it as I see it”, but with my decades of experience I have learned to understand that many times there are more than one ways to see things and that, with a bit of creativity and understanding, economically and functionally viable compromises are available if seen and appreciated by both sides.
From A Shipyard’s Perspective:
The greatest issue for a Shipyard constructing or working on a yacht is: An Owner’s failure to understand the issues, costs or realities associated with getting the work he/she wants done at the quality level - and in the time frame - desired.
Whether the issues are the result of visions of grandeur, captains or project managers without the requisite experience, yacht brokers having made representations that were a bit optimistic, or budgetary or technical constraints, the fact remains the issues must be addressed.
And, of course, at times some things just go wrong despite the best efforts of the Shipyard.
Eric J. Goldring, having run a larger superyacht facility with over 100 employees and facilities ranging from aluminum fabrication to joinery to painting, understands the interplay between the Shipyard and its employees, subcontractors, suppliers and, of course, the Owner’s team. Further, having negotiated a number of construction and refit contracts and been involved in many disputes, he is able to understand how the best of intentions can lead to seemingly insurmountable problems.
Similarly issues with poorly documented change orders, insufficient specifications, deficient engineering and unforeseen delays can be “hot buttons” that change profitable projects into mounting losses which seem to have no economically or practically viable solution.
With the Shipyard increasing its feelings that the Owner is trying to overpower it and the Owner increasing its feeling that that Shipyard is trying to overcharge or underperform, Eric J. Goldring has the ability to analyze and explain the facts and economies in a way that increases trust between the parties; which, in turn, opens to door to finding acceptable resolution.
From A Charterer’s Perspective:
When expending hundreds of thousands of dollars seeking to enjoy the idyllic yachting experience Charterers unfortunately have issues having been disappointed with yachts that they believe were not quite as promised, was lacking in its provisioning, had issues with crew and/or ports missed due to poor planning.
Having managed charter yachts, reviewed charter agreements and litigated them as well, Eric J. Goldring is all too familiar with the issues that arise and, to be sure, some of the games that are played…sometimes without the Owner’s knowledge. With this firsthand experience, knowing where to look and generally what is reasonable to expect, the disappointed Charterer and/or frustrated Owner can usually be educated as to the concerns balancing the Owner’s a short-term business deal against the Charterer’s loss of his/her dream holiday and the value associated with it.
It is without question that the cost of litigating Charter disputes can quickly exceed the value of the loss involved and that, in turn, can cause more money to be expended in order to recover the legal fees awarded to the winning party in a charter dispute. That, in turn, makes the parties less willing to compromise and the avoidable cycle continues.
Through mediation the disputes can be resolved quickly and efficiently so that the costs are kept to a minimum and that cycle never starts.
From A Yacht Broker’s Perspective:
Yacht brokers too have their sets of issues concerning lost or delayed commissions, construction projects issues causing conflicts with owners and shipyards and even captains seeking inappropriate compensation for that sale or charter to go through.
Eric J. Goldring understands that while some believe the seemingly huge brokerage commissions are not earned and therefore are fair game during negotiation of many disputes between the Owner or Charterer and a third party, the fact is that in many instances that commission has nothing to do with the dispute and/or that commission covers not only the successful deal, but the many failed ones preceding it.
Usually being in a dispute faced with a decidedly lesser economic standing, mediation can be one of the only viable methods of resolution and, of course, it allow for an opportunity for the Yacht Broker to retain his/her good reputation.