Unresolved business disputes can take up valuable management time, incur significant costs and be a drain on business resources.
Combined with the reputational risks on both sides, most businesses want to avoid disputes wherever possible and resolve them efficiently when they arise.
What do we do?
We provide commercial advice on resolving disputes effectively and efficiently. We advise on the most appropriate methods of common dispute resolution, whether that is bringing and defending court proceedings or through forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as adjudication, arbitration, expert determination and mediation. In addition to domestic disputes, we provide international, commercial and investment arbitration, advising clients on a wide range of complex, multi-jurisdictional mid and high value claims. Find out more about our International arbitration services.
Types of ADR: adjudication v arbitration v mediation
Often seen as a “pay now, argue later” process, adjudication is normally used to resolve construction disputes, as the parties to a construction contract cannot contract out of it.
Adjudication generally takes 28 days – although this can be extended with the process kick-started by one party serving a notice. Usually, an adjudicator can’t award costs unless the parties have otherwise agreed. Crucially, adjudication awards are enforced by the courts.
Adjudication is designed to safeguard cash flow for businesses by stopping one side from withholding payments from the other for long periods of time. However, the process is often used to finalise disputes with the vast majority of adjudicators’ decisions being unreservedly accepted by the parties.
Arbitration is a private process but can be expensive. Unlike a judge, the arbitrator’s time is paid for by the parties involved, and there are limited grounds to appeal the final decision. The arbitrator also has the power to order costs.
Arbitration is regularly used for disputes related to commercial cross-border contracts as it enables the parties to agree a neutral venue.
What is the difference between adjudication and arbitration?
In both arbitration and adjudication, an independent third party will decide disputes in binding cases dealing with individual conflicts. Though arbitration and adjudication are two dispute-resolving methods, adjudication is generally the last choice, used when arbitration and conciliation fail to resolve the issue.
Mediation is one of the most cost-effective methods of alternative dispute resolution. It involves a neutral, independent mediator. It is completely voluntary and conducted on a “without prejudice” basis. This means that the parties cannot refer to matters discussed during the mediation in any future litigation.
Each party sets out its position to the mediator at the start of the day in a joint session. The parties then split up into separate rooms seeking to persuade each other of the strengths of their respective positions with the ultimate aim of negotiating a settlement through the mediator.
An independent mediator can help to objectively assess the strengths and weaknesses of all parties’ positions.
Here the parties agree to be bound by the decision of an experienced expert. The expert can decide whether they want to hold a hearing or simply make a decision on being presented with the papers and arguments from both parties. The expert’s decision is final and can generally only be challenged in the event of fraud or manifest error.
In many cases, issuing and serving court proceedings is an effective way of protecting rights and achieving objectives. This is particularly so where clients need to act quickly and effectively to enforce their rights. For example, by seeking an injunction. Having commenced court proceedings, our experience is that the dispute is often then resolved through other dispute resolution methods such as mediation.
Specialists to support all types of disputes
Qualified adjudicators, arbitrators, mediators and contract specialists who advise the construction industry. Specialists in their field, they are regularly appointed to manage construction disputes through all forms of ADR, often acting as party representative across all types of sectors where their expertise in resolving disputes is needed to add value and bring about a resolution. Find out more about our construction disputes service.
We also have a dedicated tribunal services team who are regularly appointed as a neutral third party to facilitate the resolution of a dispute. As appointed members to an extensive list of industry panels, our team are highly experienced, having acted as a neutral third party on over 1,100 disputes. Find out more about our tribunal services.
Gateley Legal have a dedicated team of lawyers who advise on a wide range of commercial and corporate disputes acting for a variety of clients from internationally known plcs through to individuals. We provide international, commercial and investment arbitration. Our arbitration teams advise clients on a wide range of complex, multi-jurisdictional mid and high value claims.
Who do we help?
We advise any clients who are bringing or defending a dispute on how best to resolve the dispute.
Very impressed by the care with which my case was handled and the level of back-up and support made available to me.