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The Tri-Series: Getting Real about Resolution

In this series of bulletins, the dispute resolution team at HRC Law take a look at the various ways in which disagreements that arise in the course of a business can be resolved as quickly and painlessly as possible.

The series comprises a bulletin on each of the following topics:

1. Managing disputes internally at the earliest stage

2. Handling the disputes that do escalate and resolving them as effectively as possible

3. Shining a light on the advantages of bringing a full-blown dispute to an end through mediation

First up is managing your business so that disputes are identified, addressed and sorted out before they escalate.

Managing disputes internally at the earliest stage

Disputes can be time-consuming; they can unnecessarily sour good working relationships with customers and with clients.

If allowed to escalate, disputes can end up costing a lot of money.

Effective management of situations where your business does not see eye-to-eye with another party can turn a potentially negative drain on resources into a positive outcome.

6-step guide to internal dispute resolution

By following just six sensible guidelines, you could save time, money and business relations:

1. Honesty: If things are going wrong, they can often be nipped in the bud by reporting the problem early and openly. This keeps more options open and allows for better manoeuvrability.

2. Systems: Implement basic systems and policies that reflect the business’s expectations of its staff in handling matters when a dispute is brewing. Clear reporting lines and triggers for escalation are key.

3. Rationality: Discord between the business and another party will often be charged with emotion. It is important to step back, get perspective and look at the issue with a cool head. You will then be better placed to make logical and robust decisions.

4. Points of principle: They can come at a high price. It is a phrase that is often used to suggest that the issue goes beyond the money involved. But does the principle still stand up to scrutiny when the true cost is known?

5. Economics: Disputes should be managed in the same way other business issues are approached. The cost-benefit analysis is as relevant as ever. What is the likely return on the resources that will need to be invested?

6. Education: Don’t just keep these 6 guidelines to yourself. Disseminate them throughout your business. Engagement and buy-in by others is essential to reap the benefits and help avoid the pitfalls of commercial disagreements.

Finding a safe path

If these 6 simple guidelines are followed, without too much effort you and your organisation can navigate your way through business disagreements in a sensible, commercial fashion ensuring that time and money is not being wasted.

Instead, energy and expenditure can be focused on core operations.

If you require any assistance with implementing and communicating this way-of-working within your organisation, please do not hesitate to contact our dispute resolution Associate,  Sarah Armstrong on T: 0161 358 0535 and at E: saraharmstrong@hrclaw.co.uk

Next time: Handling disputes

Whilst the approach advocated here will hopefully eliminate a healthy percentage of disputes that might otherwise escalate, sometimes for legitimate and sound reasons the issue does need to be pursued further. In these circumstances, it may well not be right or acceptable to work around the conflict.

If the matter needs to be dealt with head-on and escalated, then it is even more important to understand your position from a legal perspective at the earliest opportunity.

The next bulletin in this series will highlight some of the key principles and issues to be taken into account when the dispute has ratcheted up, and suggest ways to extricate the business from that situation whilst preserving integrity.

September 2018: This bulletin contains general overview information only. It does not constitute, and should not be relied upon, as legal advice. You should consult a suitably qualified lawyer on any specific legal problem or matter