Business disputes and the steps businesses could take for fast, cost-effective and sensible resolutions.
Whether we like it or not, commercial disputes can occur at any time in all types of businesses, large or small. If you have become aware of a potential dispute, it can be beneficial to talk it through with a commercial solicitor to understand the options and consequences of pursuing the matter. It is important to deal with disputes early and head on to manage the situation and keep a sensible approach to maintain future trading relationships with the party involved, and mitigate further commercial risk.
Here are some guidelines should a business dispute arises:
1. Act straightaway where possible. Whether the disagreement is caused by a mistake or a misunderstanding, develop an action plan with your team or your solicitor. Regardless of who is at fault, acting quickly with a carefully planned set of actions may ensure the dispute is resolved without damaging commercial relationships.
2. Keep a record of everything. Without good records, proving what was done or said by the parties to a lawsuit can be difficult. Lack of records can effectively destroy a factual dispute. They can also result in a dismissal of the case or at least limit the case to issues of law, as opposed to factual issues, which often makes the case less expensive and easier to manage.
3. Ensure you review all the relevant documents and understand the testimony of all applicable witnesses. Knowing the facts of your case and a command of the legal issues can ensure you will have confidence in court.
4. Spend time with your accountant to understand the value of what is at stake. You will find the actual litigation expenses much easier to bear if your initial budget for the case matches an accurate valuation. This will allow you to put reasonable boundaries on the expected and/or possible outcomes.
5. Ideally, you should have a well drafted written contract from the outset. You should consider the clauses in your contract that may strengthen or weaken your case and write a timeline of everything that has happened to identify the cause of the contract breach, how to ensure that a further breach isn’t occasioned, and the contractual implications. If the contract has a dispute resolution procedure, this should be followed.
6. Communication with the other party is important. This can help avoid conflicts and misunderstandings as all parties are kept informed of what is going on with the situation. Listening to current circumstances and coming to an agreed potential solution with the other party can help diffuse the situation and minimise conflict.
7. The courts encourage all parties to a dispute to take necessary steps to settle outside of court if possible. Whilst we appreciate that commercial disputes can be contentious affairs; it is important for you to promote communication with your opponent with a view to settling the matter ahead of trial. If nothing else, it will provide you with a greater understanding of your opponent’s case within an informal setting.
8. If a settlement is not possible, your solicitor will be on hand to offer you advice. Your solicitor can advise you on how you can defend your claim to achieve a successful outcome. Going down the route of commercial litigation can be an expensive process and each case can take its own unique course meaning the overall cost can be unpredictable. It is important to carefully consider the approach you would like to take from the outset and we are on hand to offer a detailed cost based analysis to ensure that you make the choice that is best for your business.
9. Litigation can often be emotionally draining to all parties involved. It is important to remain calm throughout every step of the litigation process to ensure you remain on a strong footing. Parties who can consider facts in a rational manner will stand a better chance of formulating a strong case, and help achieve your desired outcome.
10. Seek business legal advice early. A discussion with a dispute resolution solicitor can inform your decision and response on the business dispute. It can also put the company on a stronger stance at an earlier stage. Early objectives and strategic advantages identified could include:
- – exploring alternative resolution processes
- – likely costs and disbursements and developing a cost
- -effective strategy – pros and cons of commercial litigation
- – looking at contractual terms and evaluation risks
- – identifying opportunities for ‘without prejudice’ offers
For further information or to discuss matters on business disputes, please contact commercial solicitor Max Tebbitts on 01270 211567 or email firstname.lastname@example.org