The busy year of in-house lawyers is frequently made of several disputes, sometimes managed at the same time, which all need to find the best path for dispute resolution. When facing hard or obstinate disputants, using a neutral to facilitate a negotiated agreement can be invaluable, and therefore setting-up a good dispute resolution mechanism can be priceless.

Moreover, if crystallised within a workable contract clause – available freely from alternative dispute resolution (ADR) bodies – when initiating a formalised relationship, much time, money and pain can be saved by avoiding stalled negotiations and litigation. Disputes will come: no company is immune to these normal facts of business, and in these turbulent times, increased pressure on company finances often leads to increased claims.

Most organisations carefully manage how they conduct their day-to-day operations. Considerable amounts of money and time are spent on employee management, customer service and relations with suppliers. Yet when it comes to managing disputes, and many other disruptive factors, these are often left to be conducted late in the process by external lawyers along the traditional court-based road.

Plan ahead to keep control

Aside from some expert lawyers, few people enjoy litigation. It is most often expensive, disruptive and can lead to major conflicts out of which there is little scope for a winning outcome.

Moreover, when the formal litigation starts, a large amount of control is lost on what happens. The detailed rules of procedure and evidence are imposed, and as participant you cannot necessarily stop the process and are obligated to go through the costly exercises of responding to formal pleadings and undertake lengthy invasive scrutiny, disclosing and obtaining witness statements.

Oct-Dec 2016 issue