November 18th, 2012
- Get the facts.
Don’t be persuaded by hearsay and conjecture. Get the hard evidence. You might have to use this evidence in court so make sure it is solid.
- Act early.
Don’t let things fester which make the positions between the two parties harder to resolve.
- Understand the contractual position.
What is the agreement between the two parties?
- Keep detailed notes of any meeting you attend.
Detailed notes (times, dates) makes witnesses more credible in court. The sooner they are made to the event, the more credibility they’ll have. Notes ‘made at the time’ are most powerful, especially when corroborated by other evidence.
- Take the emotion out of the situation.
Bring in someone who isn’t directly involved to advise and guide. You need a cool head in a crisis and sometimes this isn’t the boss if they are personally involved.
- Switch sides and argue the case from the opposite direction.
That way you will start to see the strength in your position or the weakness in theirs. You should also be on the lookout for your own weaknesses and their strengths. You may have to confront brutal facts at this point. No point pursuing a losing case.
- Get someone external in to mediate.
Legal representatives will often suggest this and courts do look favourably on this as a first step. In some cases it is a prerequisite to taking action.
- Choose a legal advisor wisely.
You need someone who will tell you when you a have a poor case as well as a good one.
- Use a specialist legal advisor.
They should have expertise in the area of your dispute. You are paying for expertise not for someone learning on your tab.
- Check out the hard numbers.
Weigh up the management time of a dispute process and the merits of the case. Remember that your reputation could be at risk if the case leads to revelations in court that show you or your business in a poor light.
Going to law is (and always should be) a last resort. Make sure you have everything possible managed and under control and that you have taken and applied the best advice. As in any activity, there is risk, so be sure you know what risks you run and, critically, how you can mitigate them.