Dispute Resolution & Litigation
A legal dispute arises when two or more parties are unable to resolve an issue concerning their legal rights and obligations. Legal disputes can be overwhelming and may be triggered by many circumstances. If not properly managed, they can become even more complex than they first appear, and very costly.
We can help resolve your legal dispute with the objective of avoiding expensive litigation. In most cases, we will recommend using an alternative dispute resolution process to resolve your matter, which generally ends up costing you less than going to court. We can help with a range of matters including:
- Business and commercial disputes
- Consumer law matters / misrepresentation / unfair contracts
- Contract disputes including breach of contract
- Property co-ownership disputes, boundary and easement disputes
- Commercial and retail leasing disputes
- Shareholder or partnership disputes
- Estate disputes / contested will
- Debt recovery, insolvency, and bankruptcy matters
- Property damage claims
Alternative Dispute Resolution Processes
There are many ways to resolve a legal dispute without resorting to court proceedings, and in many cases, parties involved in a legal dispute are required to consider an alternative way to resolve their matter before commencing litigation. Alternative dispute resolution, referred to as ADR, includes various processes.
Negotiation is usually the first step used to resolve a legal dispute. It involves parties communicating directly, either speaking with each other or in writing, to try to reach an agreement. The parties may negotiate with the assistance of their respective legal advisors. If a settlement is reached, it can be formalised in a legally binding agreement.
Mediation involves a neutral person (the mediator) meeting with the parties to a dispute and assisting them to reach a resolution. The process is usually confidential, and the mediator does not provide legal advice or determine the dispute.
Even if mediation does not provide a definitive outcome, it can at least identify the issues in dispute and narrow the unresolved matters. If an agreement is reached, it can be formalised in binding terms of settlement.
The benefits of mediation include:
- The location, date and time for mediation is determined by agreement between the parties, as opposed to a court timetable. This means the dispute can potentially be resolved quicker and at the parties’ convenience.
- The mediation setting is less formal than a court hearing, with a lower threshold for evidentiary formalities.
- The parties can explore more creative solutions to resolve their dispute which might not be available through court orders.
- Mediation offers an opportunity to preserve the parties’ relationship.
Facilitation is similar to mediation but more commonly used for groups that are in conflict, for example local planning matters or body corporate disputes. Facilitation can also be used as a forum for differing points of view to be discussed and considered in reaching an agreement. Facilitation is led by an impartial person called a facilitator.
Conciliation is a process in which the parties to a dispute try to reach an agreement with the help and advice of an impartial person, referred to as a conciliator. The conciliator usually has some experience of the matter being disputed and can advise parties of their respective rights and obligations. Equal opportunity disputes are often resolved through conciliation.
Arbitration is often used in situations such as industrial relations or contractual disputes. The arbitration is a similar process to conciliation where parties to a dispute present their case to an independent third person (the arbitrator). Generally, the parties are bound by the arbitrator’s decision.
Family dispute resolution
Family dispute resolution is used to resolve disputes regarding parenting arrangements or the division of property after a relationship breaks down. Unless extenuating circumstances apply, attendance at family dispute resolution is compulsory for parties before starting court proceedings for parenting orders. The process aims to reach an agreement that is practical, functional and in the best interests of the children.
Litigation refers to the commencement of legal proceedings with the objective of having a legal dispute determined by a court or tribunal. The nature and matters that come before the courts can vary significantly. Accordingly, different courts and tribunals have been established based on specific categories of disputes and the monetary value of a claim.
If you are involved in litigation, it is important to understand the relevant processes, the range of remedies that may be awarded, the likelihood of winning or successfully defending a case, and the cost implications.
A cause of action must be based on a breach of legislation or the common law, which must be identified in the proceedings. Evidence may be led by documents, statements, video, or the like, to support the alleged breach and the strength of each parties’ evidence will be tested in the court room. Witnesses may be called to support your case or that of your opponent’s.
Court proceedings run to a strict timetable and litigation requires thorough preparation. If your matter proceeds to court, our experienced litigation team will ensure that you are informed of your options and provide expert advocacy on your behalf.