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Commercial dispute resolution and litigation

Commercial disputes are an unavoidable part of running a business.

If a dispute is looming, it’s important to get the right help as soon as possible.

What is a commercial dispute?

If you’re a business operator, you may have experienced a commercial dispute.

The term commercial dispute is general. It refers to any legal dispute that you encounter in the course of operating your business.

It could be an issue with a competitor, a copyright infringement, a contract disagreement, a leasing issue, supplier issues or a problem with a co-director or business partner.

They’re often stressful, time-consuming and expensive.

When should I seek advice for my commercial dispute?

Often, the earlier you seek legal help, the better off you’ll be.

Even if the issue hasn’t yet escalated into a dispute, it can be helpful to speak with one of our commercial solicitors about what to do next.

Early advice may also help to resolve the issue, and if not, you will have put some key building blocks in place, for example making sure you can access critical information should the problem escalate.

Even if you don’t consult us in the early stages, you should still get legal advice at some point.

There are often things that can be done to help, no matter how advanced the problem has become.

Need advice? Get in touch

What is commercial dispute resolution?

Many commercial disputes are resolved without going to court, usually because other dispute resolution methods are used to sort out the issue: for example, negotiation and mediation.

In negotiation, the parties explore whether they can reach a settlement.

They are often conducted by the parties’ lawyers, who can help guide them to an outcome. Negotiation is usually the cheapest and quickest way to resolve a dispute.

Sometimes, the parties may be unable to negotiate any further, but they may still feel optimistic about achieving a resolution without having to go to court. They may choose to mediate the issue.

In a mediation, the parties agree to use an independent third party, known as a mediator, to guide them through the process.

The parties and the mediator all meet to discuss the dispute and then if necessary, the parties each meet with the mediator separately.

A mediation will often run for a half day or a full day, depending on the complexity and number of issues involved in the dispute. The parties usually have their lawyers present during the mediation.

A mediation is an informal process. The mediator doesn’t have any powers to make orders to resolve a dispute, and they won’t express any opinions about how to fix it. The mediator only guides the process. A mediation is often less stressful, and the parties have more control over the process than if they went to court. It’s also usually quicker and is confidential.

If the parties can agree, their commercial solicitors may draw up a settlement document at the mediation which can be signed by the parties.

What is commercial litigation?

Litigation is the process of taking legal action against another person or company.

It’s a legal dispute that a court is asked to resolve. Commercial litigation is litigation that concerns businesses or organisations with commercial interests.

Usually, as part of the process leading up to a trial, a court will require the parties to participate in a form of dispute resolution. This process is similar to mediation. The parties are encouraged to find a solution, with help from an independent conciliator or mediator.

If there’s no resolution, the parties are ordered to prepare the case for trial. In the lead-up to the trial, the court makes orders about the exchange of documents and other matters that will help things run smoothly.

At the trial, the court:

  • Hears evidence from witnesses
  • Examines any documents
  • Listens to the submissions of the parties (usually through their lawyers)
  • Considers the law
  • Decides how to deal with the dispute based on its findings of fact and how the law applies to the situation

The court will then make orders which are legally binding on the parties.

This process may take months or even years to complete, depending on the size of the dispute. It’s usually a much longer and more expensive process than dispute resolution.

What’s involved in instructing a commercial solicitor?

We understand that when you take the step of instructing us, you’re not only placing the wellbeing of your business in our hands, but you’re also making a financial commitment.

We need a thorough understanding of your situation and what you want from the dispute process.

We’ll get to work by taking a detailed statement from you about your business and the circumstances surrounding the dispute. We’ll need as many documents from you as possible: those that are directly related to your issue and others, such as contracts, profit and loss statements and tax returns.

Once we have this information, we’ll be able to consider it all, make an assessment, and advise you about how best to proceed. We’ll continually weigh up the anticipated legal costs against the best and worst possible outcomes for you. We aim to ensure that you’re fully informed at all times.

We’ll provide you with a written cost estimate, details about how we work, and detailed advice about your commercial dispute. Contact us today to find out more.

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