Managing dispute risks
Managing risk and making informed decisions about handling your dispute
- Considering the potential risks of a dispute can be very helpful before you embark on legal action.
- It’s essential to take specialist legal advice as quickly as possible when a dispute arises.
- Approach the dispute realistically; for example, will the other party be able to pay damages if you are successful.
- Consider the various ways of resolving your dispute, including the cost and expected time taken by each option, such as alternative dispute resolution or settling before it goes to court.
- Consider how you will fund litigation if you plan to take your dispute to court. There may be various options available which your solicitor can discuss with you.
Dealing with a dispute can be challenging on many levels; it can be stressful, disrupt your normal life and the costs can mount up, but there are ways to effectively manage these kinds of risks and minimise their potential impact on your life.
Seek legal advice as soon as you can
Getting expert advice from those who are experienced in dealing with disputes of this type will be very beneficial in determining the strength of the other party’s case, then in helping to develop an effective strategy for what to do next. Your solicitor can also help assess the likely length of time that it might take to resolve your dispute and potential costs if the case goes all the way to court.
Any delay in seeking specialist legal advice increases the chances of the risk escalating in the meantime, which can not only make the entire case more complicated, it can also mean things take longer and cost more to resolve. It’s not uncommon for those involved in a dispute who don’t take early legal advice to inadvertently say or do something that can weaken their case and reduce the chances of a successful outcome.
Choose your legal advisers carefully
Making sure that you choose a legal representative that has the experience and resources to effectively handle your case is very important. Some disputes are more complex and challenging than others, so a solicitor with a proven track record in similar cases is essential.
An experienced lawyer who acts quickly and decisively on your behalf throughout the dispute process can make a significant difference to both the speed of resolving the issue and the chances of a successful outcome.
Collect and preserve evidence related to your dispute
The preservation of evidence in relation to a dispute can be pivotal, so it’s important that any relevant documents, correspondence (including online conversations and emails) and other evidence is gathered and accompanied by your detailed statement about what has occurred. This will help your legal team to assess the case quickly and effectively once you contact them.
All evidence, whether in support of your case or not, must be disclosed if the dispute goes through the litigation process.
Be clear about your dispute objectives
It’s important to consider the potential consequences of a dispute before taking any irreversible action. Disputes often have a very detrimental impact on the relationship between the two parties. It’s also a consideration that if the case goes to court, the proceedings may be made public, and this could possibly cause reputational damage or negative publicity.
There are many reasons why you still may wish to proceed with legal action. It might be that you feel that there is a wider principle behind finding resolution on this dispute, that you want a wrong to be put right or there could be a significant sum of money involved. Whatever, the reason, ensuring that you discuss what you want the outcome to be with your legal team is important.
Working transparently together with your legal team
It’s important that your solicitor fully understands all of the potential strengths and weaknesses of your case. This enables us to accurately and realistically assess the details and make an effective plan to move forwards with the case.
Any changes to circumstances or anything else that could have an impact on the case should be communicated to your legal team immediately, so that any strategy decisions needed can be made based on up-to-date information.
Taking legal action over a dispute can be very emotive, but it’s important to take into account the strength of the case and the likely value of any damages that will awarded if it is successful. This must be weighed alongside the probable costs of the action and a decision made about whether it should be pursued.
You will also need to be realistic about whether or not the other party will be able to pay if your case is successful.
Consider settling early
Most disputes never reach the courtroom, with most being settled outside of this and helping to save all parties some time, money and hassle at the same time. Settlements for disputes can be discussed at any time during the dispute process, even when court proceedings have already started. The sooner that the dispute can be settled, the sooner that you are able to move on with life.
Offers and concessions made during settlement negotiations are made ‘without prejudice’. This means that they can’t be used as evidence if the case proceeds to court. Sometimes these negotiations don’t result in a settlement being agreed, or cannot be entered into for another reason, but alternative dispute resolution processes can still be considered rather than automatically proceeding to court next.
If you reach a settlement, keep a record of its terms
In whatever manner a settlement is reached, the relevant terms must be recorded in a document that is signed by all parties, which makes it binding.
This leaves no room for ambiguity or misunderstanding between the parties and means that should one party not stick to the terms they have agreed to, enforcement action can be taken.
Be confident you can fund a court case
If you have tried negotiating or the alternative dispute resolution options and haven’t been able to come to an agreement with the other party, the next step to pursue or to defend your case is litigation, which involves going to court.
Your solicitors will have discussed costs for the action so far with you, and the potential costs of a court case will need to be assessed too to ensure you’re aware of the likely costs when things are eventually settled. It should be made clear that if you are not successful in court, you may need to pay the other party’s legal costs as well as your own.
There are various different options for funding litigation and taking steps to minimise potential costs that could come against you, which include taking out an insurance policy, seeking funding from a third party or coming to an agreement to share the risk with your legal team. We will provide clear and honest advice to help you make an informed decision about proceeding with litigation in light of these risks or whether to seek another way to settle the dispute.