When it comes to managing a dispute, conventional wisdom says that prevention is better than cure. This is particularly sage advice when applied to the business world, where disputes occur regularly and often prove to be protracted and damaging.

Across industry sectors and across geographic regions, business relationship breakdowns vary in size and complexity but do have a fair degree of commonality, often involving breach of contract, partnership disputes, business-to-business (B2B) disagreements and covenants not to compete, for example.

Often, supposed transgressions and the disputes they spawn are expensive and time-consuming (especially if litigation is the chosen method of resolution), likely to harm all of the parties involved to varying degrees. However, it should be noted that not all disputes are a bad thing; sometimes they can have a positive effect, crystallising an issue and helping businesses to move forward in a positive and constructive manner.

In the main, though, disputes are an ever-present and potentially damaging by-product of doing business. When they arise, they require careful handling if all involved are to avoid becoming embroiled in a potentially destructive firestorm. Therefore, recourse to effective dispute management strategies – avoidance and resolution among them – is advisable and should be a core component of a company’s defensive armoury.

Oct-Dec 2017 issue

Fraser Tennant