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Dispute resolution: our in-depth guide

November 17, 2020

Disputes can be emotionally draining and time consuming. Although most people will avoid involvement with the law at some point in their lives, on occasion it is unavoidable and so ‘dispute resolution’ can be the best solution.

Dispute resolution covers lots of areas, from disagreements in the workplace to arguments with neighbours. Here we break down this varied arm of law.

What is dispute resolution? 

Dispute resolution is the process of legally resolving disputes that arise between parties. Those parties may be individuals, sole traders, partnerships, limited companies, directors, employees, shareholders.

There are two main branches of dispute resolution: commercial and civil. These are explained further on.

The way that dispute resolution works can take many forms depending on the nature of the dispute – it may be that the client can resolve the issue without involving the courts, through settlement or another form of alternative dispute resolution. Or, they may be advised to pursue the matter through the court.

Ideally at AFG LAW we would get involved at the earliest opportunity once a potential issue is highlighted so that we can advise on the options of avoiding a dispute. In the case a dispute does arise, again we like to get involved as soon as we can so that we can provide the client with a variety of options.

We take the time to understand the sector involved and apply the legal options to the factual situation to be able to reach the best solution for the client. 

What is commercial dispute resolution?

Commercial dispute resolution deals with disputes between commercial entities. This covers businesses, partnerships, limited companies and even sole traders for issues around one or more of the following:

  • Contractual disputes
  • Issues between landlords and tenants
  • Supply issues
  • Debt issues

For more information around commercial dispute resolution, read our in-depth guide.

What is a civil dispute?

Civil disputes take place between individuals or an individual and a business. Examples of areas under this umbrella include:

  • Neighbour disputes
  • Defamation of character
  • Wills, trust or probate disputes
  • Money disputes

Why is dispute resolution important?

Dispute resolution is important as most people don’t want to find themselves in Court. Sometimes going to Court is the correct and appropriate action, but every effort should be given to seeking to resolve matters without the need to appear before a Judge to determine it for you. 

That doesn’t mean compromising, but it does mean putting forward your best points and seeking to resolve a matter  with the best commercial / potential outcome that you can achieve.

What are the forms of dispute resolution?

It is commonly thought that all dispute resolution results in a trial. This is not true – around 90% of cases issued at court proceed to settle before a trial is reached. The main reasons for this is that pursuing a claim to trial can be extremely costly and time-consuming. This is why alternative dispute resolution methods, such as the ones explained below, are most commonly used instead. 

Mediation

Mediation is the most common form of alternative dispute resolution. This involves using a third party (the ‘mediator’) to listen to both sides of the dispute and provide an unbiased opinion on what the outcome should be. Many mediators are members of regulated professional bodies. This saves time, money and stress for those involved.

Expert determination

Expert determination involves the input of an expert in the area of the dispute, who is appointed by both parties. The expert’s decision will be final. While this can be off putting to those looking for some flexibility in the outcome, this option again can save a lot of time.

Arbitration

In this situation, both parties appoint their own arbitrator and can decide under which procedural rules the arbitration will take place under. The benefit of this is that this method is 100% confidential, unlike a trial which involves an open court and members of the public. This, along with its flexibility, is an attractive option to businesses who may not want information about the case coming to light to the public.

Early Neutral Evaluation

In this instance, a neutral evaluator is chosen by both parties to evaluate potential outcomes of the case. This person will provide their views on the main issues within the case as well as strength of evidence for both parties. This can be useful for those looking to get an idea of the foundation for future settlement negotiations.


At AFG LAW, we can help you no matter what type of dispute you are facing whether it be with an individual, a company, local authority or government body. Contact us today to find out more.