Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Top Tips for Resolving Disputes

 From an article in Australia but just as relevant to businesses in the U.S.   http://www.startupsmart.com.au/management/managing-people/2011-05-30/keeping-the-peace.html?displaypage=start

Top tips for resolving disputes

Write it down: from day one, you need everything documented. That means shareholder agreements, employment conditions and terms and conditions with suppliers and clients. Documentation is not only vital for resolving disputes, it can also nip them in the bud early on.

Have a clear business plan: having a comprehensive business plan can help minimise disputes. If you have a clear vision of what your business is, who you want to deal with and how you will cope with setbacks, it’s less likely that a disagreement will knock you off course.

Keep communication open: don’t cut all ties with a business that has wronged you, as tempting as it may be. “It’s better to get 50% out of them than nothing,” says Porter. “Keep talking in order to get what you can and then never deal with them again.”

Get a third party involved: a court clerk can act as a third party mediator, if needed [NOTE - not typically so in the U.S.]. If not, any independent person agreed by the warring factions can help take the heat out of the situation.

Don’t rush to the lawyers: as tempting as it is to splash out on legal help, it’s not always the best option. Once you start paying legal fees, you feel compelled to recoup this money, potentially pushing your further into an unwinnable case.
Is it worth it? It’s natural to want justice if you’ve been done over by a supplier or client. But it’s vital to weigh up the cost of the dispute versus the cost of pursuing it. If the time and money involved in the latter is higher than the former, consider chalking it up as a bad experience and move on. Just make sure you never deal with them again

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