Disagreements in life and in business are inevitable. They do not all escalate to the point at which legal action becomes necessary, but there is always potential for a minor dispute with a family member, a neighbour, an employer, or a customer to grow into something more. That is why it is so important to get early legal advice from a specialist in dispute resolution.
Within Chattertons is a large team of experts in areas including commercial dispute resolution, employment rights, and family dispute resolution. We regularly advise clients on:
- accident claims
- debt problems and bankruptcy
- employment rights
- evicting tenants
- family disputes
- medical negligence
- neighbour disputes
- professional negligence
- property ownership disputes
- schools and admissions
- town and country planning
- Wills, probate and inheritance disputes
As dispute resolution solicitors, our focus is on getting our clients out of difficult situations as quickly and inexpensively as possible and, where necessary, in a way that preserves any ongoing relationships. That is the same, whichever side of a dispute you are on; we act for clients who may look to bring, and those who may be forced to defend, a claim.
Clients often ask us...
How long will my dispute take to resolve?
Some disputes are more straightforward than others. Complications come in two main forms: firstly, the legal or evidential position. In some cases, there will be a significant point of law that needs to be argued, or there might be deep disagreement over the facts. Secondly, the person with whom you are in dispute may be unwilling to engage, or may be obstructive in other ways.
So the dispute resolution process can sometimes take longer than anticipated; there is always an element or two of unpredictability. But we keep clients up-to-date on progress, on likely timescales, and on the legal costs.
Will I have to go to court?
Most cases that we are involved in are successfully resolved without the courts becoming involved. That is always our aim, because taking a case to the County Court or High Court can be a significant, expensive, and stressful experience for an individual.
Our dispute resolution solicitors are skilled in getting to the heart of a case early on, and reaching a favourable settlement long before a court hearing is scheduled. We are proponents of Alternative Dispute Resolution methods such as arbitration and mediation, which can also be effective ways of keeping cases out of court.
So the bottom line is that, while court action is sometimes necessary, it is far from being the only way of resolving your case.
What sort of evidence will I need?
This depends on the type of claim you are bringing but, in general, the more you can lay your hands on, the better. Our dispute resolution lawyers are experts in relevance; if you were to give us two files of paperwork, we would be able to whittle that down to include only the documents pertinent to your case. It is part of our role in formulating arguments on your behalf.
Our best advice is to preserve everything. Print copies of emails, make notes of conversations, ask witnesses to write down their account of what happened. All of this is best captured early on; tracking down evidence retrospectively has a number of challenges, not least the fact that memories fade over time.
How will I know when the time has come to instruct a dispute resolution solicitor?
Some disputes are minor disagreements and are perfectly capable of being sorted out between two individuals. However, in all but the very simplest of cases, we would recommend running your situation past a dispute resolution lawyer. A simple conversation with that lawyer could be all it takes to ensure that you are on the right track and are not going to shoot yourself in the foot; remember that if a case progresses, that early correspondence with your opponent will usually come to light.
Our best advice to anyone wondering if it is time they spoke to a solicitor is to speak to a solicitor. You will not be committing yourself to an expensive retainer arrangement. On the contrary, our dispute resolution solicitors work flexibly – holding one-off conversations with a client, or advising in the background while the client works towards resolving the dispute in as low-key and informal a way as possible. We are happy to be as involved in, or as detached from, the process as our clients would like us to be. And if the pressure needs to be stepped up, we will be on hand (and up to speed) to do that.
Is it ever too late to instruct a solicitor?
Not really, unless the case has long concluded. The earlier the better, is our message. Dispute resolution is a strategic exercise, and involving solicitors like us as soon as you can means that we can help plan a course of action. We will ensure that the right arguments are raised, and that you do not do or say anything that might harm your case. And, if you are approaching the limitation deadline for bringing a claim, we will not let you miss it.
While early instructions are preferable, we are sometimes brought in to advise on disputes that have been reached a critical or otherwise advanced stage. Our dispute resolution solicitors have a strong track record in getting to grips with the issues, often turning cases around, and getting favourable outcomes for clients.
We are a small business, owed money by a customer. Could you help us get our invoice paid?
Yes, we handle many cases like yours where businesses and individuals are owed anything from a few hundred pounds to many thousands. We could take over the handling of the case for you, or advise you on how to correspond with the debtor.