There is a common misconception that parties must go to Court to resolve a dispute.
It is certainly true that sometimes you may have no other option but to go to Court, but the truth is, in most cases, litigation in Court should be the last resort.
Why should litigation be the last resort?
Litigation is time-consuming, stressful, and expensive. There are certain rules which govern the process of having your dispute dealt with by a Court to make the litigation process as fair and impartial as possible. The parties must adhere to those rules and participate in each of the required steps from start to finish (unless of course the parties resolve the dispute part-way through). This process can take a lot of time, sometimes several years, and may incur significant costs for the parties involved.
Given the time-consuming and costly nature of litigation, we encourage our clients to resolve their disputes without going to Court, if possible.
At the outset of any dispute, you need to consider all the options available to you, and which will depend on the type of dispute you have. Some types of disputes, and options aside from litigation, include:
- You are trying to recover a debt owed to you. If the debtor is an individual that owes you less than $2,000.00, you may be able to issue a letter of demand for payment. If the debtor is a company that owes you at least $2,000.00, you may be able to issue a Creditor’s Statutory Demand.
- You have entered into a contract with one or more parties, and someone has breached the contract. If there is a written contract, check if there are specific clauses about what is to happen if there is a dispute, or if a party breaches a particular term of the contract. More often than not, written contracts stipulate a conflict resolution process, for example the parties may have to refer the dispute to specific body, or attend mediation/arbitration. Also check if there are specific clauses that invoke rights when a dispute has arisen. For example, some contracts may give you the right to lodge a caveat over another party’s property if they are in breach of certain terms.
- A resolution process outside of the Court is applicable to your dispute. Check if your specific dispute may be determined by another regulatory body. For example, disputes relating to defective building work are generally determined, in the first instance, by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission.
- Your dispute may be resolved by informal negotiations. Try and speak with the other party “off the record” about the dispute, and look to reach a sensible and commercial resolution. Your desired outcome and the other party’s desired outcome may be different, but with some compromise, the parties may reach a solution in a more timely and cost-efficient manner than taking the dispute to Court. If you want to make a proposal to settle the dispute, try and consider a fair outcome for all parties.
The above list is non-exhaustive as the options vary for each dispute, and the facts applicable to each dispute.
While some disputes will inevitably have to be dealt with and heard by a Court, depending on the options available in your circumstances, it is important to remember that Court and litigation is one of, but certainly not the only, method of achieving a resolution of your dispute.
If you are presently involved in a dispute and would like to know more about your options, then please call us on (07) 4616 9898.
This publication has been carefully prepared, but it has been written in general terms and should be viewed as broad guidance only. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to render advice. No one should rely on the information contained in this publication without first obtaining professional advice relevant to their own specific situation.