Litigation is becoming more of an issue for those in the commercial sector, given the current economic climate. Many sectors are seeing rises in the number of claims raised, while the cost of conducting litigation has continued to increase. If you are reading this, you may be thinking that this is good news for firms of solicitors specialising in commercial litigation, but this is not the case. We are just as aware as those running companies that settling disputes quickly and effectively is in everyone's best interests.
Many commercial disputes arise as a result of uncertainty – uncertainty regarding the interpretation of a document or how events unfolded, for example. To avoid disputes arising, and to help resolve them as quickly as possible if they do occur, all steps must be taken to eliminate any uncertainty when it comes to your commercial dealings. Seeking advice to ensure that contractual documents, records of all transactions and events and recording of timings are carefully kept can be hugely beneficial in demonstrating what the position is, should there be a difference of opinion further down the line.
When it comes to settling a commercial dispute, many people will immediately think of court action – but this is not necessarily the case. While this is an option, there are many associated risks. The law is about interpretation, which means you can never be one hundred per cent certain about the outcome of your case. Our experienced commercial litigation solicitors will be able to look at the facts and advise you on the best way to proceed.
If you are looking to resolve a dispute without going to court, the main options are:
Court action can cause lasting damage to commercial relationships, so settling matters in a manner that allows the parties to continue working together will often be desirable. If both parties are open to compromise, negotiation can be a useful means of settling disputes. Depending on the nature of the dispute, this can be done through their respective legal advisors or directly. Another benefit is the potential saving on costs.
Expert mediators can be used to facilitate discussions between the parties if both are committed to trying to achieve a resolution. This can often be successful if the dispute is at an early stage, and both parties understand the strengths and weaknesses of their case. Mediation can provide an objective and rational understanding of the other side's arguments while also keeping the dispute private.
The new Scottish Arbitration Rules have resulted in increased popularity in resolving disputes in this way, providing a private and cost-effective alternative to litigation. In many cases, arbiters will be subject specialists.