No organization ever wants to have to deal with the messy details of commercial disputes, but despite our best efforts, these things happen. How you respond to such a situation can make a significant difference in the outcome. Should you find yourself dealing with a dispute, whether it’s over a simple misunderstanding or something more complicated, here are a few best practices for making the process go more smoothly.
A good offense is always the best defense. Whenever possible, the proper procedures should be implemented and adhered to in order to avoid commercial disputes altogether. For instance, always ensuring that agreements are in writing and contain clear and specific details can dramatically reduce the chances of a potential conflict down the road.
Have a plan in place. For instances in which commercial disputes cannot be avoided, it’s equally important to have a well-thought-out plan in place. This should include the appropriate steps to be taken the moment notice of a dispute is received. The sooner a situation like this can be resolved, the less significant the impact will be on your business.
Appoint someone to oversee the matter. Some organizations actually have an entire team that will come together to deal with incoming commercial disputes as they arise. If your firm is small or disputes are relatively rare, you may just want to have one point of contact who will be the go-to person for ensuring that the process is carried out as planned and in the timeliest manner possible.
Act fast. It may be tempting to ignore or put off commercial disputes in an attempt to avoid the hassle, but doing so could cause additional, unnecessary damages to your business. It’s always in your best interest to address and resolve these types of conflicts as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you’ll probably end up spending much more money and dealing with additional problems down the road.
Document accordingly. Be aware that you may be required by a judge to present any and all documentation relating to the situation at hand should the commercial dispute end up in court. This includes email correspondence, confidential documents and even personal notes. Keep this in mind so you can avoid documenting anything that may be considered negative, derogatory, embarrassing or otherwise detrimental to your business.
Hire a professional investigator. In addition to the documentation you may be required to present, the other party in the dispute will also have to deliver whatever is requested by the judge or legal representative. It can sometimes be helpful to retain the services of a professional private investigator who can dig up relevant information to help support your case against the other party. The investigator can also help you uncover precisely what happened internally so you can be adequately prepared to move forward.
Always use the appropriate verbiage. Attempting to work through commercial disputes outside of court is typically encouraged, but be careful about what you say and how you say it. For instance, most (but not all) communications between both parties should be documented with the words ‘without prejudice.’ The privilege this invokes allows you to explore the possibility of a compromise without the risk of prejudicing your case should you be unable to come to an agreement. You should consult with an attorney to determine precisely what terminology should be used and under what circumstances.
Do you need help sifting through the details of a commercial dispute? An experienced corporate investigator may be just the solution. Give us a call today and let’s discuss how we can help expedite the process and improve the chances of a positive outcome.