5 Things You Need to Know About Disputes and Litigation

  • 1Legal disputes can be costly, time consuming and draining for a business. It’s always wise to look out for opportunities to resolve a dispute on commercial terms, rather than going to court. If you’re involved in a dispute, work with a lawyer who understands that litigation isn’t necessarily the best option.
  • 2If you have a simple claim against another party, a common first step is for a lawyer to draft a “letter of demand”. This letter sets out the details of your claim against the other party. It also outlines the legal basis for the claim and the action you will take. A letter of demand can also include an offer to settle the dispute through a commercial compromise. For example, if someones owes you $75,000, you may be willing to accept payment of $70,000 to avoid a drawn-out dispute.
  • 3After receiving a letter of demand, the other party may ask a lawyer to respond outlining their position. After that, the parties may negotiate and try to reach a commercial resolution that takes into account each party’s position. If the dispute doesn’t settle through negotiations, the party with the claim will consider progressing to litigation. This will be completed by filing an initiating process in a court or tribunal. An initiating process or statement of claim is a document that sets out the party’s case. This party is the “plaintiff” or “applicant”). The other party (the “defendant” or “respondent”) should then file a “defence”, a document outlining their position in the dispute.
  • 4Court documents (like a statement of claim or a defence) need to cover all the important elements of a party’s case. You need to prepare these in the correct form for each court or tribunal. If you’re involved in litigation, it’s best to work with a specialist lawyer who can draft your court documents in the proper form.
  • 5Even if your dispute ends up as litigation, it may still be a good idea to settle before the court hands down its decision (a judgment). An experienced dispute resolution lawyer or barrister can advise you on the progress of your case. They will also outline whether you should consider settlement.
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