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Commercial disputes can become costly in terms of time and expense. This checklist will help you handle disputes with the aim of resolving them.
- Review what was agreed, and how clear the agreement was.
- Clarify how the other party has failed to live up to the agreement. Consider to what extent you may have contributed.
- Assess the loss you have suffered as a result and consider any loss they may claim to have suffered.
- Collate evidence (eg written contracts, correspondence and witness statements).
- Try to negotiate an amicable resolution. Keep evidence of negotiations including copies of letters and notes on conversations.
- Assess the other party’s ability to pay, for example by running a credit check (including records of outstanding county court judgments).
- Take legal advice unless the dispute is straightforward, represents a relatively small amount and runs no risk of a significant counterclaim.
- Assess whether you have a strong case — how clear the legal position and evidence are — and the risks of a counterclaim or losing in court.
- Clarify the costs and timescales involved in taking the recommended form of legal action; decide whether it is worth pursuing.
- Consider how far you are prepared to compromise either by accepting stage payments or partial payment for a quick resolution.
- Either abandon the claim, or inform the other party in writing of your intention to take legal action. Follow the appropriate procedure.
- Track progress and legal costs as the case proceeds.
- Continue to be prepared to compromise; accept any reasonable offer to avoid further delays and disruption, and the risk of court action.
- After a successful court case, be prepared to enforce judgment to obtain payment.