Tips to improve your chances of dispute resolution success

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By JohnBarnes

What is dispute resolution?

Effectively, dispute resolution refers to any method for settling disagreements that arise between parties without necessarily turning to litigation as the answer. There are various techniques and procedures you can try before heading down this path; all should be explored during an initial step of dispute resolution.

Knowing and comprehending the main cause of any dispute is key for formulating arguments and exerting pressure in any disagreement. Although it might seem simple, disputes often become emotional battlegrounds involving accusations thrown back and forth – ensure that you bring back to reality, by sticking only with facts related to current problems – being clear and direct is the key to being an effective advocate!

Keep records

Documenting all negotiations and events is key for supporting your arguments, from emails to notes taken during meetings or phone calls. Without such written records, parties are more apt to have difficulty convincingly arguing their case and providing a full account of what transpired.

Do not prejudice your position

Negotiation should always take place in an objective and unwavering manner; making provocative suggestions or offers could damage your position in the end. When proposing settlement agreements, always preface them with “without prejudice”, so as not to appear as bait if your case goes to court.

Deal with the right people

Before entering into any negotiations, be certain that those you’re engaging with have the power and authority to make the necessary decisions. Should it become necessary, get this agreement documented in writing.

Ensure information is disclosed properly

If the person with whom you’re working is absent for an extended period, make sure that their case is correctly handed off to a new person and all relevant details and up-to-date information is shared with them – this will reduce time as well as the chance for mistakes later on.

Ignorance is not bliss

Tension of conflict may make you want to hide in the corner and avoid discussing negotiations or responding to allegations, but this could prove costly in the long run. Ignoring negotiations or not responding could constitute admitting guilt in future discussions.

Work through your options first

Court proceedings should only ever be used as an absolute last resort. There may be more efficient and less costly solutions such as arbitration or mediation that you should explore first, such as arbitrating or mediating a dispute instead. Failing to explore alternative settlement methods may leave you open to being penalised by authorities such as an official or judge, or incurring the costs of hearing later on.

Compromise is key

Perhaps a competitor has caused you harm or wrongdoing; but resolving disputes requires both parties finding an acceptable resolution that suits both of their positions. Frigid arguments won’t get anywhere; only compromise will get results that satisfy both sides involved. Taking too long over an issue that’s important can keep it from getting resolved successfully.

Be mindful of tactics

While it is essential to remain open and willing to compromise during negotiations, you must also realize that negotiations are an intricate strategic process. If the person competing against you knows personal information about you that allows them to exploit weaknesses or weak points against you.

Tips to get you through a Dispute

Get the facts – not opinion – the facts

When disputes arise, parties often try to escape responsibility and provide their opinions instead of detailing the events as they happened. Many cases have been taken to court on such grounds only to later learn that witnesses expressed opinions based on what they thought had occurred instead of what actually took place.

Know your legal position

In an ideal world, Written Contracts would govern our business relationships. If there is one, make sure it covers both parties involved and review it closely to understand how the contents apply to your unique circumstances and any provisions which stipulate how the parties must respond if there is an dispute or breach.

Understand the impact

After gathering all the facts and assessing your legal position, take note of what the implications could be for you. Although this may seem straightforward at first, their impact could be more substantial than expected and understanding its direct and indirect ramifications is key for taking appropriate steps forward. These repercussions could range from losing money, reputational damage and time spent waiting on other plans; contract cancellation from other companies; loss of contracts altogether or assessing staff levels among many others – this analysis can help you gauge how impactful a dispute will be so that you can choose the most effective strategy before engaging.

Don’t ignore the problem

Be proactive and act swiftly is often the best approach to solving problems; failure to act may only exacerbate them further. Ignoring phone calls, correspondence and communications could result in legal intervention being sought against you; by engaging early, however, you could resolve the matter without legal intervention and perhaps even agree to attend mediation and avoid court costs altogether.

Avoid emotive communications

Tensions may be high and people’s reputations could be on the line, leading to potential conflicts that are emotional in nature and could threaten both parties involved. Responding emotionally may encourage others to follow your lead; but, by working together cooperatively to find solutions instead, everyone could save both time and money in the process. Cooperating to come up with solutions may prove more effective; nobody likes being bullied into providing one, yet with so much at stake, keeping anger under control may prove challenging but do your best to remain as professional as possible when communicating.

Consider alternative forms of dispute resolution

If you can’t seem to reach an agreement between both parties involved, finding an independent mediator who can assist both of you could be an economical alternative to hiring solicitors. Your solicitors will meet with both of you at every opportunity to discuss mediation as it has now been suggested as a form of alternative dispute resolution by the Court, rather than going straight to court and incurring costs therein. Rather than going directly to court – only for mediation to be suggested later anyway – why not try mediation first with all involved? Maybe mediation was already included as part of their contract!?

Consider whether you need legal advice

Businesses often seek advice from solicitors late at night in an attempt to resolve an issue through admissions or comments in written correspondence that ultimately only lead to more problems.