Small Business Guide to Handling Dispute Resolution

By Steven Ram posted 10-03-2022 08:05


Business Law Featured Post by Anastasia Misarvidis-Tyshing

Navigating the ins and outs of a small business can be a challenge. Without the finances and expertise of larger corporations when disputes arise, it can feel overwhelming. So, how do small business owners know when a dispute is worth litigating? And what are the key things to consider when entering into dispute resolution?

How do you know when you have a dispute?

According to Sally Radford, Principal of Foursquare Legal, anytime there is a disagreement between two parties there is a dispute. Within the everyday dealings and negotiations entered into by business owners, disputes will arise. A dispute is only worth pursuing further when you get to the point that it can’t be dealt with by the business owners themselves.

What are the main things to consider when deciding to pursue a dispute?

The most important thing to consider, particularly for small businesses, is the outcome they are seeking and the cost of that outcome. For Sally one of the main questions, she ascertains when meeting with a new client is what a successful outcome looks like to them. While some clients want to pursue the matter regardless of the cost, for others even with their ‘best case’ outcome it may not be worth litigating.

What types of dispute resolution methods should small businesses consider?

In Sally’s experience small businesses often obtain good outcomes from negotiations and informal settlement conferences. One of the main misconceptions had by business owners is that in order to pursue a dispute you must go to court.

Instead, there are a number of alternative dispute resolution methods that small businesses should consider. Depending on the type of outcome sought by each party, something as simple and cost effective as a mediation can reach positive outcomes.

According to Sally the avenue of dispute resolution each business owner elects to take will depend on not only the type of dispute, but the desired outcome and what success looks like to the client. Because of this, it is essential to make sure you seek advice from a legal professional to make sure your time and effort is being best spent to achieve the desired outcome.

What should a business owners first step be when deciding to pursue legal action?

When making this decision the first step to think about is getting trusted legal advice. As it can be hard to know exactly which steps are the best ones to take to (hopefully) avoid going to court and resolve the dispute, this is something best left up to the professionals.

When finding the right lawyer for you, it is crucial that you make sure that your best interests are being kept at the forefront, even if this means walking away from the dispute. At Legally Yours all lawyers go through a vetting process and provide upfront pricing, focusing on a more ‘client centric’ way of practicing law to help clients feel more secure about finding trustworthy legal representation.

Overall, when entering into a dispute as a small business it is important to keep in mind there is a plethora of cost-effective dispute resolution methods. When deciding to pursue a dispute further make sure you’re honest about what a successful outcome looks like. And finally, make sure to assess this outcome against potential costs.

Do you need legal advice?

This Business Law Feature post does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area.

If you have a specific question or you’d like to let us know what you need help with, head to our Talk to a Lawyer search resource and find the right lawyer for your needs.

No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Legally Yours Pty Ltd accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.

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