Business disputes are incredibly common. In highly-charged atmospheres where our reputations, finances and years’ worth of hard work are at stake, there will inevitably be times where we find ourselves in dispute with others.
Read our top five tips below, for resolving disputes, and preventing them from escalating beyond control:
- Take a Collaborative Approach to Preserve Commercial Relationships
Keeping personal feelings out of the equation as much as possible, and ensuring that alliances and working relationships are formed in the place of resentment and opposition, is vital to the continued success of any business.
As in our personal lives, there will inevitably be times when we feel offended or wrongfully treated by others within our business or business owners. It is tempting to prove a point, and to stand up for ourselves, but there are plenty of instances where it is better simply to maintain commercial relationships – even if there is no love lost when it comes to our personal lives, and therefore the approach taken to resolve the dispute should account for that objective.
- Look into Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution
Mediation is utilised to great effect in a wide variety of scenarios, and is extremely effective in business disputes, as it enables the parties a adaptable forum to resolve disputes, which perhaps cannot be achieved in Court proceedings where the process will be geared towards a determination of more specific legal issues.
In business, the benefits of mediation are that disputes can be discussed in a mutual setting, in the presence of an impartial mediator and third-party, with the view to reaching common ground – and, in a more practical sense, a legally-binding agreement – before the situation escalates to the courtroom.
This often proves to be a highly effective decision – one that protects business relationships, as well as increasing the likelihood of both parties feeling happy with the outcome. For instance, the Cheltenham-based firm willans.co.uk states that surveys have shown that approximately 80% of mediations lead to a settlement on the day, with many of those that do not settle at that point being resolved soon after, thus circumventing the need for financially and emotionally taxing court proceedings.
- Get Legal Advice at an Early Stage
Much like personal disputes, business disputes have a habit of escalating far beyond the initial discrepancy, and consuming your personal and professional life in a way neither party intended, nor wanted.
It stands to reason that initial disputes will often prove far simpler to solve than disputes that have been raging on between two factions for months – or even years. For this reason, it is incredibly beneficial to reach out to a professional solicitor with experience in commercial law sooner, rather than later.
- Put Protective Measures in Place
While it is easy to assume that legal help remains unnecessary until something significant goes wrong, the fact remains that much of the benefit brought by professional legal services is found in pre-emptive measures, such as good, sound contracts of employment and shareholder agreements, and other tactical steps that can be taken to ensure that you negotiate from a position of strength .
While these documents may represent benign forces when they are first created, there will likely come a time in the future when they come into play, and prove themselves indispensable when it comes to preventing further lengthy and financially-demanding disputes.
- Keep Perspective
When it comes to business, it is often the case that emotions will inevitably be brought into the mix.
The trouble is, long-drawn out disputes often have the habit of proving to be incredibly taxing, not only on our personal lives and emotional health, but on the business’s finances. And, when factors such as pride and hurt feelings are brought into the mix, these disputes can easily escalate far beyond their original scope, and be drawn out further still for no reason other than a lost sense of perspective.
Maintaining perspective is vital, and relies on our ability to seek objective and experienced legal help early on in the dispute.