Unresolved business disputes can take up valuable time, money and resources.
Disputes can have a draining effect on day-to-day business activities. They can take up valuable management time and lead to significant costs being incurred. They can also cause reputational risks for those on both sides. As a result, 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 from the outset with the aim doing so effectively and efficiently. We advise on the most appropriate methods of common dispute resolution (such as court proceedings) and alternative dispute resolution to help achieve your aims – such as adjudication, arbitration, expert determination and mediation as well as some less commonly used methods. We are also very experienced in bringing and defending court proceedings.
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. But adjudication isn’t the end of the story. The adjudicator’s decision often lasts until practical completion, when it can lead to arbitration or litigation if not accepted.
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 in commercial cross-border contracts as it enables the parties to agree a neutral venue.
Very impressed by the care with which my case was handled and the level of back-up and support made available to me.
Mediation is the most cost-effective method 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.
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.
Who do we help?
We advise any clients who are bringing or defending a dispute on how best to resolve the dispute.