How to Manage a Business Dispute

Check your facts:

To successfully resolve disputes it is essential that you are aware of all the facts that are causing the disagreement. You must consider exactly how the dispute arose which can be achieved by listing the events leading to the dispute and highlighting the key ones, details of the events should also be included.

In the case of disputes involving adherence to contracts it is vital that a clear understanding of the rights and responsibilities of each party is present. Additionally, verbal agreements should always be accompanied with supporting emails, messages, specifications, paperwork, and time frames as a display of evidence.

Talk to the other party:

Many disputes arise due to misunderstandings; a conversation with the other party may clarify the problem and lead to a resolution. However, when more complex disagreements arise it is important to consider the following points when dealing with the opposing party.

Make sure the person you are communicating with has the authority to settle the dispute.

Always remain calm, polite, and professional in your spoken or written communications.

Plan what you are going to say. Set out your concerns as clearly as possible, making it evident that you are looking to resolve the situation quickly and in a professional manner.

Try to understand the situation from the other party’s perspective.

Make a list of possible solutions to the dispute for discussion with the other party – be realistic and prepared to negotiate.

Consider how achieving a particular solution (or not achieving it) will impact on your business – particularly in terms of time, money, and future working relationships.

Listen carefully to what the other party has to say – you may find the difference between your position and theirs is not as significant as you initially thought.

Look for a ‘win-win’ solution that restores your business relationship. Make a list of realistic solutions to discuss with the other party.

After discussions with the other party make clear notes and record any outcomes that were agreed.

Formally write to the other party:

Unfortunately, as many of us would know, a calm and polite conversation does not always solve the dispute. The next step in this process is to write a formal letter to the opposing part which outlines your concerns and the outcome you are seeking. This alternative provides the other party with an opportunity to resolve the dispute before further action is taken, and it provides evidence that you have attempted to resolve the dispute which may be required if you need to use other means of resolution.

All letters sent must have copies of relevant paperwork (contract, emails quotes or invoices) attached to it and ensure you have a personal copy of all correspondence.

If you are still unable to resolve the dispute after talking and writing to the other party, you may need assistance from a third party. Be cautious about resorting to litigation. Consider using an alternative method to resolve the dispute such as negotiation and mediation

Dispute Resolution Service:

If all else fails and legal action is not a viable option the use of the Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) may provide you with invaluable insight. DRS is a voluntary process whereby disputing parties attempt to resolve their issues with the assistance of an impartial third party. DRS gives you an opportunity to resolve disputes in a timely and cost-effective manner without needing to engage in a formal legal process.

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