Wherever you turn in the commercial world, there is a need for successful working relationships. Business partners, for example, must work in harmony if their venture is to succeed. The same can be said for directors and shareholders, businesses and suppliers, employers and employees, and so the list goes on.
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that on occasion one of these relationships will become acrimonious. In fact, almost all businesses will encounter a dispute at some point. Such issues cannot necessarily be prevented. But often what you can control is the way in which you resolve the dispute.
How to resolve a business dispute
The thing about resolving a business dispute is that the right strategy entirely depends on the circumstances at play. Not all disputes are made equal, and the best approach will vary according to the situation. As they say, one size does not fit all.
For instance, what if a minority shareholder is disgruntled with the company or its directors and wishes to take action? In such cases, it will first be necessary to establish whether there is a Shareholders’ Agreement, and if so, what the available remedies are. If there is no such agreement in place, then a minority shareholder may want to bring a claim on the basis the company’s affairs have been run unfairly, which has prejudiced the minority shareholder.
On the other hand, what if a contractor or supplier believes the terms on which they do business have been breached? If the answers cannot be found in a written contract, the best approach is often to resolve the dispute by way of mediation. This is often successful in reaching a mutually acceptable solution.
Ways to resolve general business and commercial business disputes
There are, therefore, various ways of resolving a business dispute. As explained above, the way to achieve a resolution will depend upon the facts of the case.
Generally, you will first want to consider whether a remedy is set out in a contract. There may be terms and conditions of business, a Shareholders’ Agreement, a Partnership Agreement or other commercial contract that determines what should happen in the event of a dispute. Or a contract of employment might contain terms that cannot be challenged, providing a clear solution to the problem at hand.
If no such remedy can be found in this way, the next step is to consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Both mediation and arbitration fall under the heading of ADR, and both can be highly effective ways of resolving a business dispute. It has the added advantage of expediting resolution, limiting legal costs, and can even strengthen (or at least, maintain) working relationships.
If methods of alternative dispute resolution are not successful, the final option will be litigation through the courts. Before you do so, however, attempts should be made to negotiate a settlement. There are ways to do this without one party having to admit fault. If a settlement cannot be agreed, a final ruling will be made by a court or tribunal.
Speak to a solicitor
Resolving a business dispute is no mean feat, as there are many different approaches, as well as many legal complexities to navigate. On top of this, the mechanics of your business may be adversely affected by the dispute, adding to the financial and emotional strain you will already be experiencing.
That is why if you are in the midst of a business dispute, it pays to speak to a commercial dispute resolution solicitor as soon as possible.
If you would like an experienced solicitor to help you resolve a business dispute in a timely and effective manner, please contact me, Duncan McNair, at Spencer West. I will be pleased to discuss your matter in person or by telephone without charge. I have 35 years’ experience as a lawyer acting in such matters.