Every year, thousands of individuals and businesses find themselves involved in a legal dispute and will need to consider ways to resolve the matter. A legal dispute can impact heavily on your health and your finances, with commercial disputes having the potential to cause huge losses for a business.
Effective dispute resolution, whether informal or litigated, requires knowledge across various legal areas and good advocacy and case management skills. We are experienced negotiators and will always look for the most efficient and cost-effective way to resolve your case to deliver you the best outcome possible.
We can assist with:
- contract disputes
- partnership disputes
- corporate / director / shareholder disputes
- property and leasing matters
- debt recovery and insolvency disputes
- employment disputes
- defamation proceedings
- copyright and intellectual property infringement
- neighbourhood disputes
- consumer law disputes
- building and construction matters
- estate disputes and family provision claims
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Dispute resolution processes include negotiation, mediation, conciliation and arbitration, and offer several advantages over commencing proceedings in court. The processes are generally less formal and less expensive than litigation and can offer more flexible solutions than what might otherwise be achieved in court.
Negotiation is usually the first step involved in resolving a dispute between two or more parties. It involves parties communicating directly, either speaking with each other or in writing, to try to reach an agreement. Each party may appoint a legal representative to advise and negotiate on their behalf.
Mediation involves a neutral person (the mediator) meeting with the parties to a dispute and assisting them to reach a resolution. Typically, the mediation is confidential, and the mediator does not provide legal advice, nor does he or she determine the dispute. Mediation is best used when the parties are willing to negotiate in good faith and make genuine attempts to resolve the dispute. Even if the mediation does not provide a definitive outcome, it can at least identify the issues in dispute and narrow the unresolved matters. If an agreement is reached the parties can formalise their negotiations by entering into terms of settlement.
Facilitation is like mediation but more commonly used for groups that are in conflict, for example local planning matters or body corporate disputes. Facilitation can also be used as a forum for differing points of view to be discussed and considered in reaching an agreement. Facilitation is led by an impartial person called a facilitator.
Conciliation is a process by which the parties to a dispute try to reach an agreement with the help and advice of an impartial person, referred to as a conciliator. The conciliator usually has some experience of the matter being disputed and can advise parties of their respective rights and obligations.
Arbitration involves parties to a dispute presenting their case to an independent third person (the arbitrator). The parties are generally bound by the arbitrator’s decision. Arbitration is sometimes used when the methods of dispute resolution have proven unsuccessful. Arbitration is mostly used in situations such as industrial relations or contractual disputes.
Family Dispute Resolution is used to resolve disputes regarding parenting arrangements or the division of property after a relationship breaks down. Family dispute resolution is almost always compulsory before commencing court proceedings for parenting matters. The process aims to reach an agreement that is practical, functional and in the best interests of the children, without intervention of the court.
What is litigation?
Litigation is the commencement of legal proceedings in a relevant court or tribunal with jurisdiction to hear and determine a matter in dispute and order a remedy.
Legal action must be commenced within a prescribed time, otherwise the claim will become statute barred. The cause of action must relate to the breach of a specific law or laws and be supported by evidence which may require both expert and lay witness evidence.
Legal proceedings can be expensive and time consuming but may be the only option where the parties to a dispute are intractable, there is a need for urgent orders such as an injunction, or where parties must defend allegations made against them.
Once an action commences in court, the parties must comply with practice directions and court processes regarding the filing and service of documents, participation in dispute resolution (where relevant), the format and filing of evidence and attendance at directions hearings, status conferences and pre-trial hearings.
Parties involved in a litigated legal dispute may settle the matter at any stage without proceeding to a final court hearing. In such cases they will need to enter into a deed of settlement and consent orders to dispose of the proceedings in court.
Implications of court proceedings
Court proceedings are complex – they often involve an overlap of legal issues and there are always two or more versions of events. They can become protracted and expensive.
Parties who are unsuccessful in a litigated dispute may have a costs order made against them. This means that not only will they need to pay their own legal costs, but they will be liable for the legal costs of the other party.
For this reason, it is essential to obtain an objective assessment of the legal and practical merits of litigation from an experienced professional.
Our team is highly experienced in dispute resolution and litigation. We take a pragmatic approach, protecting our clients’ legal rights while providing cost-effective solutions in their best interests. We provide quality representation and advocacy in and out of the court room to deliver workable solutions for a range of disputes.