Avoiding disputes is something every business owner wants to do, be it small or big! If you’re an owner of a small entrepreneurial business in Australia, you may think you don’t have to stress about commercial disputes. But, you’re just as vulnerable as the large organisations operating downtown in Melbourne CBD if you’re not careful!
You can end up facing potential pitfalls including unhappy customers or disgruntled landlords that result in costly disputes. Hiring commercial litigation lawyers Melbourne entrepreneurs use to solve disputes is a good place to start if you battle to find a resolution with the other party. Or, you could get a really rock-solid commercial agreement done before entering any type of transaction in the first place.
Here are some vital tips for handling commercial disputes as an entrepreneur so you can protect your business interests and hopefully avoid landing up in court.
3 Tips for Handling Commercial Disputes as an Entrepreneur
1. Get All the Facts
A dispute can get out of hand very quickly especially when you don’t have all the facts on hand. Equipping yourself with all the data and feedback means you can handle a commercial dispute, fully informed and armed with all the necessary information.
Ask the following questions when getting all the facts in place:
- What led to the dispute? Find out why the dispute started in the first place.
- What were the events leading up to the dispute? Identify the key ones.
- What issues are priorities and need to be resolved as quickly as possible? Knowing the key issues means you can start finding ways to resolve them as soon as you can, to limit extreme damage to your reputation or bottom line.
- Is this a contractual dispute? If so, read the contract fully and understand what your responsibilities are and what are those of the other party.
- Do you have emails or other written evidence such as quotes or invoices that can give you more information about the dispute?
Having all the details before taking a dispute further helps you to tackle the conflict from an objective perspective without getting emotional.
2. Start a Conversation With the Other Party
Most times a dispute starts because of a misunderstanding between the parties involved. Starting a conversation with the other party can often resolve the issue before things get completely out of hand.
Finding a resolution does mean being open, honest and respectful during communications with the other party. Hosting a face-to-face meeting should be done to handle most disputes. The following tips will help you when meeting the other party:
- Be prepared: Plan what you want to say. Express your concerns in a professional manner and indicate you want to solve the matter as amicably and fairly as possible.
- Be understanding: Be an active listener and hear what the other party has to say without interrupting them. Choose to be understanding by being fully aware of their perspectives.
- List solutions: Part of being prepared is to have a list of solutions you can offer the other party. This prevents too much focus on the initial problem and instead opens up the floor for finding a solution to the issue.
- Be willing to compromise: Be open to negotiating a solution with the other party. You may need to compromise at some point to settle a commercial dispute. Be willing to do this if it doesn’t negatively impact your business in any way.
- Be professional: Stay calm and polite throughout the meeting. Avoid getting emotional and stay away from abusive language or physical behaviour. Take responsibility, be in control and maintain professionalism at all times.
- Keep a record: Take clear and accurate notes during the meeting. Record all agreements made during the meeting or any further actions that need to take place for a resolution to be finalised.
You need to be fully prepared, open-minded and willing to hear all sides of the story if you’re serious about reaching a resolution between both parties. Starting a conversation with the other party is a cost-effective way of solving a dispute before it gets out of hand.
3. Get Advice From a Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution Lawyer.
If the facts show that you’re handling a bigger problem for which a quick chat won’t suffice, you should consider getting advice from a lawyer who specialises in commercial disputes. The same applies if your meeting with the other party fails and you weren’t able to reach an amicable agreement.
Qualified commercial litigation and dispute resolution lawyers are trained to assess the situation. They can recommend the best way to handle a commercial dispute. They’ll identify ways to resolve the dispute before it becomes too costly or needs to be taken to court. Commercial lawyers are equipped to make quick decisions while taking prompt action to ensure you can get back to focusing on growing your business.
Don’t be overwhelmed when these challenges come your way. Simply learn the necessary skills and use your resources!
You can handle a commercial dispute if you know what you’re dealing with. If caught in time, before it spirals out of control, you can come to an agreement that suits both you and the other party. You’ll need to be alert, professional and willing to negotiate with the other party. But, if none of these options work, you can hire a lawyer qualified to give you the right advice!