Dispute Resolution

The repercussions of a legal dispute can be severe – disputes can cause financial loss, damage relationships and reputations. They interrupt business operations and can deplete critical resources.

Getting professional advice before a dispute escalates helps to clarify the relevant legal issues, protect personal and company interests and identify potential solutions so you can make informed decisions.

Early dispute resolution

Early dispute resolution refers to a range of processes that may be used to resolve a conflict or settle a claim outside the jurisdiction of a court or tribunal. Common processes include negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and expert determination. Many disputes are resolved through these processes without the high cost and delays often encountered through the court system.

Commercial clients involved in a legal dispute require a strategic and pragmatic approach to resolve their matter as quickly as possible, avoid expensive litigation and mitigate or recover loss. The complexity of a legal dispute can vary significantly and often involves more than one area of law.

Effective dispute resolution requires a skilled negotiator with a working knowledge across various areas of law such as corporate and company law, contract and property law, insolvency and employment law. The facts of each case must be analysed to identify the legal issues in dispute and the applicable areas of law involved. Only then can the strengths and weaknesses of the parties’ respective legal positions be identified, and solutions proposed to deliver the best possible commercial outcome for the client in the circumstances.

The effectiveness of early dispute resolution processes will depend on the actual circumstances of the case and the parties’ willingness to make genuine attempts to negotiate in good faith. Agreements reached through these processes can be formalised in legally binding terms of settlement.

Benefits of alternative dispute resolution

Mediation and other alternative dispute resolution processes offer a range of benefits and can be used to resolve many types of legal disputes. In fact, taking part in a dispute resolution process is often a prerequisite to instigating legal proceedings in court.

In addition to the potential cost and time savings, dispute resolution is generally more flexible and provides the parties an opportunity to explore outcomes that may not be available through formal court processes. The evidentiary threshold is usually lower, and the parties have the opportunity to preserve their relationship. This is particularly desirable in commercial arrangements where contracts remain on foot, and the parties’ performance obligations are to continue.

If a mediated settlement is not entirely successful, the process can still be useful to narrow the issues in dispute.

Litigation

While we have achieved numerous successful negotiated settlements for our clients, we have also represented many in litigated proceedings, providing strong advocacy skills with expert knowledge and guidance.

Despite best attempts to resolve a dispute through mediation, it is sometimes necessary, and warranted, to commence court proceedings or to defend a litigated matter. In such cases the matter must be carefully analysed to provide a client with a reasonable assessment of possible outcomes, before making an informed decision and preparing for court.

If you or your business is involved in a legal dispute, you need professional advisers with appropriate experience and sound judgment to guide you through the process, protect you and / or your company’s reputation, and advise on important related issues such as regulatory compliance and personal liability.

Our lawyers are skilled at assisting clients in minimising risk and maximising outcomes. We can provide you with a full assessment of your options, the pros and cons of taking different courses of action and devise strategies to help you achieve cost-effective, tailored outcomes.

We represent individuals, SMEs and larger corporations across a range of legal dispute areas including:

  • corporate disputes and breach of directors’ duties
  • shareholder, partnership and joint venture disputes
  • contract disputes
  • property disputes
  • commercial and retail leasing disputes
  • debt recovery and insolvency matters
  • employment and workplace issues

If you need any assistance contact one of our lawyers at law@colquhoun.com.au or call 02 9818 2666 for expert legal advice.