6 steps for dealing with business contract disputes

Posted: Wednesday, 12 August 2015 @ 12:31
6 steps for dealing with business contract disputes

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Step 1 - Identify your position

• Prepare a chronological statement dealing with all the issues and identify 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.
• 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

What does a “win” mean to you? 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 and long running dispute.

Step 3 - Know your opponent and yourself

Do they have the money and time to fight you? Can they afford to pay your costs if you win?
Who is the best person to handle the dispute for you? It is important to be as objective as possible and avoid the complexities caused by strong personalities and prejudices.

Step 4 - Costs and benefits

What is the likely timescale and cost of various options? You need to consider this early on as it will dictate your strategy.

Step 5 – be thorough and realistic

• Consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR) rather than hotly pursue court proceedings
• Do not just dump everything on your lawyer’s desk expecting them to make sense of a mountain of documents without your guidance
• 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.

Step 6- consider an informal meeting with your opponent

• When you are armed with the facts and advice it might be possible to head off an escalating dispute with an off the record (“without prejudice”) meeting with your opponent, to clear the air and hopefully reach agreement, or at least narrow issues between you.

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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