Dispute Avoidance

It is far better to avoid a dispute than resolve one. This is how The DARP can help your business avoid disputes:

We have seen too many times how a dispute could have been avoided if only:

  • contracts, agreements or terms and conditions had been prepared, negotiated and drafted collaboratively and effectively between the parties;
  • someone had said (or not said) something at a critical moment;
  • a party had taken (or not taken) a course of action at a particular time;
  • parties had not become defensive and or aggressive when the issue first occurred which then can only lead to disputes emerging.

The DARP is focused on helping all sides avoid the costs, risk and time of disputes,  courts and litigation by helping all parties to achieve Dispute Avoidance.

Dispute Avoidance is good for business. Avoidance of commercial disputes will avoid the need to incur litigation costs and court fees. It will create deeper and better relationships thereby providing more opportunity for commercial success and it will also minimise the business and its workforce from having to invest valuable time and effort into addressing the historic, current and future facts and events surrounding the dispute.

Getting the contracts right from the outset

Without a contract or set of terms and conditions that are ‘fit for purpose the scope and propensity for issues and disputes to arise is immense; it’s perhaps even more alarming than that as it is probable and not just possible that parties to a poorly drafted contract or set of terms and conditions will be involved in issues and disputes and litigation before their commercial relationship concludes and this is not good business practice. The DARP can help prepare, negotiate and finalise contracts so they are fair, reasonable and collaborative and therefore far less likely to be used as a basis for future disputes.

Engagement is everything. The engagement of the parties through effective communication and intelligent negotiation will lead logically to a finalised agreement that reflects, in a more balanced fashion, the commercial intentions and needs of the parties thereby making the relationship stronger and less likely to descend into dispute and this is good for business.

All agreements require careful deliberation. It is never wise to expect one contract to be a perfect fit for another, even if it appears to be identical. It is also not sensible commercial practice to sign a contract without first understanding it, but sadly both of these occur regularly and cause parties to become involved in entirely unnecessary disputes.

A party who accepts the other-side’s standard contract or terms and conditions in order to avoid opening the preverbal ‘can of worms’ does so at their own peril. Many businesses want to avoid the legal minefield of contractual negotiation however acceptance without review or understanding may lead to a future sense of injustice and this will only expedite the escalation of costly and time consuming disputes. It is easy to be wistfully reflective with hindsight propounding how unfair it is when contractual terms signed and accepted are utilised to one party’s disadvantage and court rooms are filled with parties demanding ‘justice’ and ‘fairness’ but these equitable outcomes are not always going to be possible as the courts have declared it is not their responsibility to protect commercial parties from a bad bargain. The DARP can help review and analyse contracts prior to them being signed in order that a party fully understands what is being placed upon them and the terms that they are agreeing to.

The inclusion of a bespoke layered dispute resolution clause operates to protect parties in the event that a dispute emerges after the contract has been entered into. The advantages to such an inclusion are that the parties can engage in a pre-agreed set of processes to deal with any issues in a cost effective and time efficient way thereby keeping the parties focused on their operative obligations under the agreement without resorting to legal proceedings and courts which is better for business and a continuing commercial relationship.

Effective Communication

Most disputes arise out of ineffective communication and modern electronic communication has made the chances of miscommunication even greater. Research shows that the most effective form of communication is face-to-face, the least effective being the written word. The former has voice, tone, pitch and pace, non-verbal communication (i.e. body language) and the opportunity for eye contact. The latter has none of these and the recipient may well interpret what is meant by the written words differently to the sender and this can lead to miscommunication, misunderstanding and disputes arising. The DARP can assist businesses to improve the effectiveness of their communication which will help their commercial relationships and internal performance.

Helping to have difficult conversations

Building on effective communication The DARP help businesses to develop ways to avoid the natural instinct of ‘fight or flight’ when confronted with an issue or dispute and to develop ways of using conflict positively as a catalyst for understanding and co-operation. Difficult conversations, are by their very name, not always welcomed however they are vitally important and should not be ignored as to do so this can lead to exacerbation and an even harder conversation with the possibility that a previous agreeable outcome is not longer attainable. there is a need for courage, positivity, engaged conflict, understanding and of course preparation. The DARP can help businesses in their difficult conversations and to help establish more efficient ways of dialogue to ensure that there is no unnecessary need for repetition. By engaging early in having difficult conversations relationships can be preserved and disputes can be avoided and this is good for business.

Coaching to negotiate intelligently

The need to ‘win’ usually involves getting the better of another and therefore there is a loser. The DARP can help businesses work more co-operatively to shape better outcomes, which result in deals with dignity and therefore deeper and longer-lasting commercial relationships which is good for business. We can assist in framing the core principles of intelligent negotiation, from the basics of getting the ‘headlines’ right to dealing with incompatible negotiation styles, which will enable business to engage more collaboratively over disputes or contractual preparation.

Managing complaints with empathy

Whether internal or external, complaints need to be handled quickly, seriously, personally and with empathy and we can help in ensuring that complaints are satisfactorily addressed and therefore avoiding any escalation of a complaint into a formal legal dispute.