Our commercial litigation solicitors advise businesses on all aspects of dispute resolution, from pre-action correspondence through to all parts of the litigation process, including enforcement and alternative dispute resolution.
Formal court proceedings can be time-consuming and expensive. They often take up valuable management time and businesses would prefer to use this time to develop their business.
The Court rules, known as the Civil Procedure Rules, encourage parties to try and resolve their disputes, in order to save on the time and expense of litigation, but also to avoid the courts’ being clogged up with cases which could have been avoided.
Whilst the Court rules cannot force parties to attempt to resolve their disputes without the court’s intervention, there can be costs consequences if a party does not at least seek to try and resolve their dispute, either before or after court proceedings have been issued.
At Bindmans, we can advise a business as to the best approach to take to see if their dispute can be resolved and formal court proceedings avoided. There are a number of recognised methods that parties use to seek to settle disputes, some of which are set out below:
Without prejudice correspondence and meetings
As parties are encouraged to resolve their disputes without the court’s involvement, it is not unusual for a party or their solicitor to engage in correspondence with the opponent (or their solicitor) to see if the claim can be resolved without the need for court proceedings, or if proceedings have been issued, without the need for the matter to proceed to a full trial.
Without prejudice discussions and correspondence cannot be shown to the court during the course of any trial and as such, parties can attempt to resolve their claims without admitting any liability.
A party may wish to put forward offers to settle the dispute as part of these without prejudice discussions/correspondence and Bindmans can advise a party as to the best time to make any such offers, what protection in relation to legal costs such an offer may afford them and how to position any such offer with your opponent.
Mediation is a widely recognised and used method of seeking to resolve commercial and other disputes. It involves parties agreeing to mediate their dispute with an independent third-party mediator, who will seek to see if the parties can reach a settlement of the dispute. Any agreement reached at the mediation will not be binding upon the parties unless they both formally sign a settlement agreement at the end of the mediation recording the terms of what has been agreed.
Mediation is widely used nowadays and is seen as a very good tool for trying to resolve disputes. It is less expensive than going to a final trial and has good rates of success. Mediations can often be arranged relatively quickly, which again allows businesses to concentrate on their company as opposed to being involved in litigation.
At Bindmans, we have extensive experience in both preparing for and attending mediations with clients and can advise clients on the most appropriate time to mediate their claims.
As part of its terms of business, parties may have contracted with each other that any disputes between them should be resolved by way of arbitration. Like mediation, arbitration takes place before an independent third party, however, the arbitrator’s decision is binding on both parties. Arbitrators are often specialists in the specific area of the dispute in question.
Arbitration is generally less expensive than a trial, although the parties do have to follow a timetable set by the arbitrator and will often have to provide specialist evidence to the arbitrator within a short timeframe. Our solicitors can advise you as to whether arbitration is appropriate for your claim.
Our team of experts have produced Dispute Resolution Guidance Documents, designed to provide individuals and businesses with information on a range of legal matters and procedures that they might find themselves facing. To view the full range of Guidance Documents available, visit our web page here.