Have you had a breach of contract?
Contacts are a daily occurrence; they can range from complex business exchanges to even buying a tram pass. It is a common occurrence for disputes between parties to arise, even with the best intentions. Contractual disputes occur due to various disagreements, for example, the quality of service that has been delivered. Unfortunately, these types of disputes are an inevitable reality of contracts between both businesses and individuals. These disagreements can be stressful regardless if you are a company or an individual, the financial strain of a contractual dispute can cause immense stress and can take up a lot of time.
What are contractual disputes?
As contracts are typically formed in writing, or possibly verbally disagreements do sometimes occur. In the instances that they do occur, there are specialist litigation lawyers who specialize in civil and commercial contractual disputes. Contractual disputes can include anything from:
- Unpaid bills: energy, phone bills, etc.
- Unfulfilled contract terms
- Problems between landlords and tenants
- Construction related claims
- Liabilities in insurers
- Infringement of IP rights
- Shipping cases
- Defective and malfunctioning products
The list of contractual disputes is endless, those listed above are just a few examples. The most common disagreements that occur are those involving private landlords and tenants, and personal injury claims. Regardless is the breach is between individuals or commercial infringement, it can have a significant impact on the business itself. This is why it is vital to take legal advice regarding the breach to conclude the dispute as quickly as possible.
Seeking Legal Advice
When a disagreement occurs seeking legal advice should be your first point of call. A litigation lawyer will be able to advise you on the best course of action based on your individual or companies circumstances. Their priority will be to reduce and manage the risk, limit the financial cost and any potential disruptions that may occur in your life or business while finding the best resolution for the dispute.
If a breach of contract has occurred, your lawyers will advise you on negotiating or mediating the case. By negotiating or mediating the case, it will avoid the costly and time-consuming process of going to court. Sometimes this is not always possible, and if a settlement cannot be reached outside of court, then your litigation lawyer will guide you through the court process.
Commercial and individual disputes can be expensive if the case is taken to court. So considering legal insurance when the dispute first arises is advised, as it can help to cover your potential legal expenses. Being strategic with a contractual dispute from the onset will help you throughout the litigation process.
Negotiation and Dispute Resolution
As previously discussed your lawyer will advise you to take a positive and pragmatic approach to avoid unnecessary disputes. You will encounter times when unacceptable mistakes are made or when you sometimes need to appeal the dispute rather than accept an unfair outcome. If you aim to negotiate a resolution rather than wanting to triumph against the offending side, then you should have clear key objectives when seeking the best outcome during the negotiation process. These may include:
- Maintaining a working relationship
- Minimising the financial cost
- Minimising disruption that may be caused
- Seek a financial settlement or agreement
With these objectives in mind, you will have to consider the practical negotiating issues. Your lawyer should advise you throughout this process and help you to build a persuasive argument. If negotiating does not work, there are alternative forms of dispute resolution such as arbitration or mediation.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Alternative dispute resolutions is a method that can be implemented so that disputes are resolved faster and more cheaply than it would be if you go to court. Another benefit of using ADRs can also help confidential information being revealed in court. There will be occasions where contracts can specify that some form of ADR should be used in the event of a dispute. It is also common practice that courts will usually expect the parties involved in the dispute to try ADR before going to court.
- Mediation: this is often the fastest and cheapest option. Typically both parties will work with a mediator who will try to help them reach a reasonable agreement. This option can only be used if both sides agree. The outcome is not necessarily binding.
- Arbitration: this involves both parties presenting their argument to an independent arbitrator who will decide on how to resolve it. Arbitration can often be a more expensive it does, however, provide a resolution, as the arbitrator’s decision has to be accepted by all parties.
Taking your contractual dispute to court should be your last resort, regardless if you are suing or being sued. The litigation process is expensive, time-consuming and extremely stressful. Legal advice is advisable for both ‘small’ claim and more complex issues.
If you have been party to a contractual breach speak to a member of our team today at Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors