Ten tips for avoiding a commercial dispute

When businesses are in dispute it is often because they have different perceptions of what was agreed when the deal was done.

This might concern the quality or quantity of items or services to be supplied, unexpected charges, contract variations and what must be delivered when.

To avoid these problems it is vital to have a clear agreement in place, preferably in writing, and then to maintain detailed records throughout the project or contract.

Here are some points to bear in mind when negotiating or entering an agreement:-

  • Confirm in writing what will be delivered and at what price - and get each party to agree the document if possible (most commonly by signing it);
  • Make sure that the person entering the agreement is authorised by the party they represent to do so;
  • Include up-to-date, accurate terms of business if you are supplying goods or services;
  • If it is a service to be charged hourly, provide or ask for an estimate, along with regular itemised timesheets;
  • Make sure your employees, if dealing with another party, understand the limits of their authority;
  • Never sign a contract without reading it and always consider taking advice.
  • If drafting or entering into a contract, the language must be precise. Get a Solicitor to draft / check it if in doubt.
  • Think about what to do if something goes wrong. Would there be repercussions?
  • If it is a fixed term contract, what would the penalties or entitlements be if you wished to end it early?
  • Should you contractually agree a way to resolve disputes, possibly starting with mediation or arbitration?

The amount of detail required will, of course, depend on the complexity and value of the services or products you provide.

Many of these issues can be covered in professionally written standard terms and conditions, but you should always tailor these where necessary and produce written sales agreements.

Doing so could save you and your business a great deal of money and disruption later on.


Contractual disputes

  • Breach of contract
  • Trade disputes
  • On-line traders
  • Supply of defective goods/services
  • Claims under personal guarantees
  • Debt & asset recovery

Property disputes

  • Ownership disputes
  • Development disputes
  • Option agreements
  • Boundary disputes
  • Adverse possession
  • Easements
  • Rights of way
  • Enforcing securities
  • Charges
  • Restrictions & encumbrances
  • Land Registry applications
  • Property/estate management
  • Service charges

Construction disputes

  • Payment/certification disputes
  • Building defects
  • Sub-contractor disputes
  • JCT, NEC, RIBA & similar design/build agreements

Landlord & Tenant disputes

  • Rent arrears
  • Guarantor’s liability
  • Forfeiture/termination
  • Recovering possession
  • Dilapidations
  • Protected lease renewals
  • Breach of covenant
  • Disrepair claims
  • Unlawful assignment/sub-letting
  • Break clauses
  • Rent reviews

Professional Negligence

  • Solicitors
  • Surveyors
  • Accountants
  • Architects
  • Liquidators
  • Administrators & receivers

Recruitment disputes

  • Recovery of recruitment fees
  • Disputed cause of introduction
  • Candidate suitability
  • Dual introducers
  • Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003

Shareholder/partnership disputes

  • Ownership and transfers of equity
  • Unfair prejudice claims
  • Derivative actions
  • Partnership dissolution & winding up

Financial Mis-selling

  • Bank mis-selling
  • SWAPS/LIBOR claims

Protection of Intellectual Property rights

  • Domain name disputes/cyber squatting
  • Passing off
  • Breach of confidentiality
  • Copyright and trademark infringement

Making a claim for negligent advice

The client asked us to consider and advise on the conduct of their former solicitors during both of the cases.  We careful analysed many files and documents, including the former solicitors’ files, and concluded that the client had a claim.

We pursued the solicitors for negligent advice and handling of the cases, with a view to recovering our client’s losses.  This involved extensive dealings with the firm, through their professional indemnity insurers and city lawyers. 

They refused to pay the claim, despite being provided with considerable supporting evidence and legal argument during various attempts to negotiate and settle the dispute.

Pursuing the professional negligence case in the High Court

We started High Court proceedings, which the former solicitors defended by denying the allegations and raising a number of technical legal points. 

Ultimately we exerted sufficient pressure in the litigation to force a settlement before the case reached trial, resulting in our client recovering a six-figure sum. This represented the vast majority of all legal costs they had paid, as well as Verisona Law’s legal fees.

Individual Property Owner

“Verisona Law dealt with a complicated dispute with a former manufacturing supplier forced into administrative receivership. Their clear, calm advice never wavered: their tenacity and diligence provided our company with a successful result”.

MD of Textile Wholesaler

"Having recently used Verisona Law to help recover a commercial debt due to us, I would highly recommend them.  Jeremy was very professional and helpful, giving information throughout the case, and he was also very calm which really helped us."

Anonymous

"I would like to thank you for the first class service we have received from you. Your advice and the professional way you treated us throughout culminated in a result which, prior to your appointment, seemed a long way away."

Mr Herridge


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