Disputes - Avoidance & Resolution

Disputes are an inevitable part of life and doing business. As specialist dispute resolution solicitors, we can work with you to reduce the risk and the impact of them when they do arise.
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What types of disputes do we deal with?

We can advise on most kinds of civil disputes (with the exception of divorce and children matters). Some examples of the types of matters we typically deal with include:

Contract disputes such as general business contract disputes, supply, distribution, franchise, sale of property or business, employment, intellectual property licenses, and construction disputes.
Property & neighbour disputes such as boundary issues, property damage, trespass, nuisance, access rights, covenants, easements (such as rights of way), sale and purchase disputes, and disputes between separating unmarried couples.
Power of Attorney & Deputy disputes
Defamation
Construction
Landlord and tenant (commercial and residential)
Director/ Shareholder disputes
Consumer rights
Copyright and trademark infringements & passing off claims
Will & Estate Disputes
Debt and insolvency

Dispute Avoidance & Risk Management

As much as disputes are an inevitable part of life, there is a lot that you can do to avoid them arising in the first place.

A good starting point is making sure that you have your house in good order. Properly drafted and legal compliant contracts, procedures, systems, training and record-keeping are key. These things might seem like mundane tasks that can be put off for another day but if you have these foundations in place, you minimise the risk of there being expensive, stressful and time consuming problems later on.

Legal Risk Health Check

One service we offer businesses is a Legal Risk Health Check. We will come to your place of business, talk to you and your management team about your current systems, check over your contracts, forms and templates, and advise you on any changes you could make to avoid any risks identified. We will also work with you to put in place ways of working that minimise the risk of litigation in the future.

Early intervention and case assessment

It is fairly common these days for people to head straight to Google if they have some sort of medical problem. Ask Dr Google and you will get all kinds of terrifying answers to explain that weird mark on your leg!

Many people go through exactly the same process when they find themselves in a legal dispute. After Googling, the next step they often take is to call anyone they know who might have even a little legal knowledge. This can sometimes help but it can also cause confusion or frustration, or at worst, mistakes.

There are a lot of helpful free resources online that can give you some guidance as a starting point, and more are added all the time. We have included a Useful Links page on our website which gives you some links to reputable organisations that could be helpful to you at an early stage. We will also be continuously adding new free resources on our Blog page with the aim of giving you some much needed help as early as we can.

Even with all of that information out there, we know that it can still be very difficult to sort through it all and to work out whether you have a claim, or good grounds to defend a claim, and how to deal with it.

We encourage anyone involved in a dispute to reach out to us as early as you can. We can usually get to the crux of the problem quite quickly because we have been doing this a long time. We can talk you through your options and make sure you know what help is available to you. We will usually do this for a fixed fee so that you have certainty on cost.

If your dispute is more complex or you need ongoing legal advice, we can act for you from start to finish, attempting first to find a resolution without the need for court proceedings, or staunchly fighting your corner through the litigation process if that is what is needed.

Alternative & Online Dispute Resolution

Some common examples of Alternative Dispute Resolution include:

Negotiation: This is generally the starting point and involves either exchanging letters or emails, or having telephone discussions, about the dispute with a view to reaching agreement. It will often be the quickest and cheapest way of resolving a dispute which is why it is usually tried first.
Mediation: This involves the parties meeting  to try to resolve the dispute but in this situation, there will also be an independent and impartial mediator present whose job it is to try and help the parties to come to an agreement. Mediation has a high success rate and is nowadays almost seen as  something that people in a dispute are expected to try. Mediation can be done in person or virtually.
Arbitration: This is  similar to litigation through the courts but it is private instead of public and is intended to be a quicker and cheaper process. It involves the appointment of an independent Arbitrator who, much like a judge, will make a legally binding decision.
Online Dispute Resolution (ODR): ODR is not the same as ADR as it does involve the courts and is therefore online litigation. But ODR is designed to make it easier, cheaper and quicker to bring a claim and resolve it than the traditional court system. ODR is still in the early stages but there are some options available. The Civil Money Claims (CMC) service is there for claims under £10,000. For claims of between £10,000 and £100,000, there is the Money Claim Online (MCOL) service. Details can be found at www.gov.uk/make-money-claim.
Meetings: Another option is to agree to have a meeting either in person or virtually (which is much more common right now due to the Coronavirus pandemic) to discuss the problem and how it might be resolved. This could involve solicitors as well or it may just be a meeting between the people directly involved.
Virtual / Online mediation: Lockdowns and social distancing issues have led to the emergence of remote or virtual mediation. Rather than meeting in the same room or building, mediation is conducted via online platforms like Zoom or Teams. Side benefits include no travel, less cost, and the ability to participate in the comfort of your home or office.
Ombudsman services: An ombudsman is someone who looks into complaints against companies and organisations. It is an impartial, independent and free service. There are ombudsman services covering both the private and public sectors, across a broad range of services including housing, finance, energy, rail, property, pensions, legal services, Local Government and Social Care, and health services. You can find more information on the Citizens Advice website.

Litigation

We act for both claimants and defendants in litigation via the courts whenever it’s needed. If settlement cannot be reached at the pre-action stage, we will act robustly on your behalf in pursuing your claim or defending your position through to a trial.

We bring many years litigation experience to the table and can deal with wide range of disputes for both private individuals and businesses, from straight-forward debt claims to high-value or complex disputes. We will guide you through the process from start to finish, with a firm eye on achieving a successful outcome for you.

Litigation can be a very stressful and expensive process. We will make your journey through the court process as smooth as we can and give you practical, direct and plain English advice along the way.

We will also talk to you at about cost vs benefit of litigation both at the start of your case and as it progresses. In some situations, your case will be a matter of principal for you; but in many, if not most cases, cost vs benefit is a real issue to be factored in throughout the process.

(Please note that we do not deal with the following types of litigation: personal injury, clinical negligence, immigration or divorce or children matters.)

To arrange a consultation with us or to find out how we can help you, please email hello@vinelaw.co.uk or call 01945 898090.

Fixed-fee Retainer Service for Businesses

One way to ensure we are always on hand to help at early stage is to become one of our Fixed-Fee Retainer clients. For a monthly fee, you will have access to:

Telephone or email advice from your solicitor as and when you need it (subject to certain limits)
Regular email updates on changes to the law that are likely to affect you.
An annual review meeting to discuss any problem areas, review risk and plan any required changes.

The retainer arrangement allows us to really get to know you and your business, what is important to you, and the approach you take generally to risk and business. It also allows you to budget your legal spend and minimise the risk of small problems turning into much bigger ones. Contact us about fixed-fee retainer services for your business.