At Levi Solicitors LLP, our specialist dispute resolution solicitors can assist you in resolving almost all types of commercial or personal disputes: from high value professional negligence claims, to recovering an unpaid debt; from a neighbour dispute about an overhanging tree, to a shareholder dispute. There are various methods of resolving disputes, and the best way will often depend upon your individual case. We look at some of the options and the pros and cons of each:
The first step in most dispute resolution cases is to send a letter to the other party, setting out the issue and requesting that they resolve it. A letter from a solicitor can often persuade your opponent to either look to instruct their own solicitor, or to resolve the dispute. If your opponent does not admit to what you allege, they may well respond to give you their version of events.
From there, the parties can look to negotiate a settlement between themselves, either face to face or by letter. Such meetings are sometimes called ‘without prejudice meetings’. This means that anything discussed at the meeting is between the parties only. If the matter is not resolved, the Court will not be told the details of any offers that you have made.
þ Cost effective. Flexible – parties can offer or accept terms of settlement that a judge may not be able to order. Can be used at any time in a dispute – from the very beginning, to on the steps of the Court. The settlement can remain private. Early negotiation can ensure that relations are not frayed further.
ý Not effective if one party has a substantially stronger bargaining position, or where a party’s position is entrenched and they are not willing to discuss other means of settlement. Without prejudice meetings may not be suitable where relations are particularly strained.
Mediation is a form of dispute resolution. The parties meet with a third party mediator. The parties sit in separate rooms for most of the time, with the mediator attempting to broker a deal. The mediator will be impartial, and will not make a decision about who is right and wrong. He or she will be there to assist the parties in negotiating. As part of the settlement, the parties can agree between them who will pay the costs of the mediation.
þ While there will be a fee for the mediator, it is usually much more cost effective than going to court. Mediators are trained to help parties get results and can assist breaking deadlock. Parties can control the final settlement, meaning that more creative solutions to the issue can be agreed, than the Court could potentially order.
ý You will not get a decision about who is right or wrong. Both parties must be willing to negotiate; if they are not, the mediation is not likely to be effective.
Adjudication is a method of resolving disputes, used particularly in the construction industry. There is a specialist adjudicator who will make a decision that will be binding between the parties.
þ Is a very quick process, usually all completed within 28 days. Specialist construction adjudicator.
ý Decisions can be appealed to the Court. Not suitable for all types of dispute.
Issuing proceedings at Court should always be a last resort. Any of the above options can be used prior to the final trial, and the Court will encourage parties to try to resolve the matter. The Court will make a decision based on the law and the facts presented to it. It will then make an order, confirming what the decision is and what the losing party needs to do. The Court will usually order that the losing party pays the winning party’s costs.
þ You will get a final decision, binding on the parties. Particularly useful where possession of a property is required. The judge will usually be experienced in your type of dispute (there are some specialist courts).
ý Can be very expensive to reach trial. If you lose, you could end up paying your opponent’s costs. The Court is limited as to what it can award – other methods give more flexibility.
Whatever the dispute, we can assist you in resolving it. Call our dispute resolution team today on 0800 988 7756 and arrange a free consultation.