Disputes inevitably arise in everyday life and can happen between family members, friends, or even partners. While most are resolved calmly within a reasonable timeframe, in some instances, it can be next to impossible to reach a favourable outcome for both parties.
However, what happens when the dispute in question is between a contractor and a client, or business and an employee – and money comes into the equation? This is where things can get messy, time-consuming, and stressful. If you find yourself in a problematic situation where you can’t resolve a commercial dispute, it might be time to seek legal advice.
What is a commercial dispute?
Generally speaking, a commercial dispute is any disagreement that arises in trade and commerce. A commercial dispute will involve money, whether owed or lost. In particular, this type of dispute can refer to:
- Invoice, or contract terms
- Quantity of product or service
- Quality of product or service
- Claims of release from liability
- Any alleged claim of deduction or offset arising out of or in connection with trade and commerce.
What is the first step for an individual before commencing a commercial dispute?
An individual’s priority should be to identify whether there are any dispute resolution methods that they are bound to, or if necessary, obtain advice to enable them to identify their options.
For example, a contract may provide that the parties mediate before the President of the Law Institute of Victoria or the President’s nominated person. The law may also dictate that the matter can only be heard at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). In other cases, an employment contract may provide for an internal review system within the company itself as the first port of call.
How are commercial disputes commonly resolved?
Each case is unique, and should be treated as such. Nobody wants to have to go through the Courts to resolve an issue – this will most likely incur significant legal fees as well as a determination made by the Courts. This may also involve payment of a principal sum to one party, as well as Court costs.
Generally speaking, a dialogue outlining the issues in dispute between the two parties should start. Then, if nothing is resolved at this point, a letter of demand, drafted up by a lawyer, can be sent from the individual initiating the proceedings to the individual defending the proceedings. The letter of demand should stipulate the issues and what is demanded in regards to the outcome.
Ideally, an agreement will be reached here. More often than not, a settlement that doesn’t lead to Court may prove to be the most cost-effective outcome for all involved. Sometimes, all it takes is a little cooperation and initiative to meet at an agreeable outcome.
Our advice for an individual who is dealing with a commercial dispute
- Know your options. If there is a contract involved, find out if it provides you with any other choices.
- Obtain advice from a lawyer or an industry specialist. Remember sometimes that an ideal end to mediation is said to be a situation where neither party leaves entirely happy.
- Try to remove your emotions from the case. Being emotionally invested in the issue can often lead to the incursion of higher legal fees.
- Where practicable, settle as soon as possible. This will help minimise your legal fees.
Let Rose Lawyers navigate the commercial dispute for you
If you need to address a commercial dispute quickly, speak to Rose Lawyers first. We provide specialist commercial lawyers who can address your concerns. All our lawyers are qualified and have the skills, knowledge and expertise to help achieve the best possible outcome for you.
For a free, confidential consultation, please call us on 03 9878 5222.
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