Commercial Disputes Resolution & Litigation

Many businesses will at some stage, be involved in a commercial dispute and may need to consider their legal options to resolve the matter.

The law establishes a set of rules to manage different types of disputes privately. When a person or entity does not voluntarily comply with the rules, or the parties involved have a different interpretation of their legal position, the courts have the power to determine the dispute, order compensation, and/or enforce compliance.

Litigation, however, is expensive and we have seen cases where the beneficiaries of court proceedings are the lawyers and expert witnesses, rather than the parties in dispute. The true cost of litigation must be carefully assessed. In addition to the expense, there are the non-monetary costs – wasted energy and time, interruption to your business and personal life, anxiety, and uncertainty.

Most disputes can be resolved through strategic negotiation, using alternative dispute resolution processes, rather than going to court. We think outside the box and look for commercial, pragmatic solutions that often cannot be found in a courtroom. This can result in a commercially focused outcome that saves time and resources and may minimise the adverse impact on a commercial relationship that is already strained.

If, however, litigation appears to be the only way forward, we will assist you in undertaking a cost-benefit analysis of proceeding so you can make an informed decision.

Using Alternative Dispute Resolution to settle your dispute

In most cases, before considering court proceedings, we will try to resolve your dispute using alternative dispute resolution (ADR). ADR includes various processes that may be used to resolve a dispute rather than going to court. They are less formal than court proceedings and typically less expensive. ADR processes include negotiations, informal settlement conferences, mediation, and conciliation.

Mediation involves a neutral person (the mediator) assisting the parties to negotiate a settlement to their dispute. The mediator does not determine the matter but assists the parties to reach a resolution. Conciliation is a process in which the parties to a dispute try to reach an agreement with the help and advice of an impartial person, referred to as a conciliator. The conciliator usually has some experience of the matter being disputed and can advise parties of their respective rights and obligations. ADR processes such as these can result in many benefits to the parties, including:

  • The location, date and time is determined by agreement between the parties, which can potentially resolve the dispute a lot quicker than going through court and waiting for a final hearing.
  • The setting is less formal than a court hearing, with a lower threshold for presenting evidence.
  • The parties can explore more creative solutions to resolve their dispute which might not be available through court orders.
  • The parties may have an opportunity to preserve their relationship, which can be beneficial if they will have ongoing arrangements or are likely to continue working together.

For some disputes, the terms of a contract may stipulate that the parties participate in an ADR process such as mediation before a matter can be litigated. Similarly, it is common for parties to court proceedings to be directed to attend a mediation to try to resolve the dispute before going to a final hearing.

More formal procedures, like arbitration, may also be used to resolve disputes. Arbitration resembles court processes in some ways but tends to be less formal and may have different rules.

What is Litigation?

In some cases, litigation may be the only option to enforce your rights or defend a matter. In such cases, the parties give over their power to the court to make a decision about the outcome of their dispute. This outcome can be enforced by the court, ensuring that the dispute is fully resolved.

Court proceedings run to a strict timetable and the parties must comply with various processes such as directions hearings, status conferences, and the required format for the presentation and filing of evidence.

We have acted for clients in every jurisdiction including the Local, District and Supreme Courts of New South Wales, the Federal Court and the High Court of Australia. We have also acted for clients in commercial arbitrations and mediations. We know how the court system works and we pride ourselves on fighting hard for our clients.

We can assist with the following matters:

  • Contract disputes
  • Workplace disputes
  • Partnership disputes
  • Insurance claims
  • Insolvency matters
  • Unpaid debts
  • Building disputes
  • Negligence claims
  • Consumer law claims

If you need assistance, contact one of our lawyers at [email protected] or call 02 6580 0199 for expert legal advice.