5 Steps for effective business dispute management in 2013

Posted: Wednesday, 2 January 2013 @ 10:20

Step 1 - Identify your position

• look at exactly what has happened and gather together all key documents such as any relevant contract, terms and conditions, correspondence and e-mails.
• identify your key personnel who would be called upon to give evidence. Get written statements from them as soon as possible.
• consider obtaining early expert evidence on any key points
• get early legal advice as this could dictate how you handle the dispute to your best advantage. It will identify your legal position and your strengths and weaknesses.

Step 2 - Consider what result you want

Do you want to win? Of course you do but what does a “win” mean to you in a particular case? It might be that your position is strong and you want to fight now to head off future disputes. Or your most important objective may be to protect a lucrative business relationship and so the last thing you want is a heated dispute.

Generally it is better to approach dispute management in a commercial way to maximise your recovery or minimise your loss (taking into account risks, time, and costs).

Step 3 - Know your opponent and yourself

As well as knowing what you want, it is important to have a good idea of what your opponent wants. Do they want to fight the case? Do they have the money and time to do so? Can they afford to pay your costs if you win?

Equally important are the personalities involved. Who is the best person to handle the dispute for you? If you are getting agitated perhaps your judgment will be clouded and you should get help. It is important to be as objective as possible and avoid the complexities caused by strong personalities and prejudices.

Step 4 - Costs and benefits

You will need to know what the likely outcomes are in your case and how much it is going to cost. It is important to undertake a cost/benefit analysis. What is the likely timescale and cost of various options? Only then, can you really make a decision on strategy.

Step 5 - Plan your campaign

Once you have gathered all the above information and taken legal advice on it, it is now time to plan your campaign. What tactics would be best to achieve the outcome you want? What methods do you want to use?
• Prepare your case thoroughly, identifying all the facts and key documents
• Do as much work as you can in setting out your case as soon as the dispute appears
• Prepare an action plan for the dispute
• Consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR) rather than hotly pursue court proceedings
• Listen to your lawyer’s advice
• Be honest with your lawyer. Do not be unrealistic or hide any damaging evidence as you can be sure that your opponent will know your weaknesses.
• Carry out regular reviews of progress and any developments with evidence and objectives

For advice on business dispute management contact:

Nigel Musgrove
Business and Litigation Solicitor
Tel: 0845 003 5639


Blog by Nigel Musgrove
Nigel has been providing dispute resolution advice as a solicitor for over 35 years. As well as advising SMEs and business owners on disputes he also offers a specialist licensing law service. View profile
Call Nigel on +44 (0)1285 847 001 or by email
This blog is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor is it intended to be a complete and authoritative statement of the law, and what we say might be out of date by the time you read it. You should always seek legal advice to confirm whether or how any information in this article applies to your particular situation. We offer a free telephone consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.

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Thank you. Your response is great, very straight to the point! Hopefully this will bring an end to the matter. I will certainly be recommending your services as I am very impressed with the prompt dealing of this matter.
Janet Burbidge

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