While most of us would prefer never to engage in a dispute with another party, the reality is that, sometimes, doing so is unavoidable. As forensic accountants, we can assist you in the financial aspects of any claim or dispute whether or not the case involves court proceedings.
We’re often asked about the various benefits and merits of litigation and dispute resolution, so here we aim to look at both and give some background. You should always consult a lawyer for the most appropriate course of action if you are considering any form of legal redress.
This is quite a broad term describing the sometimes complex process of taking a dispute to a court of law for judgement in situations where the involved parties cannot reach agreement by other means. Litigation encompasses a wide range of issues, from matrimonial matters such as a divorce action to personal injury claims plus commercial and employment disputes. It remains a powerful tool for resolving disagreements.
The term also covers proceedings in various different tribunals and courts across Britain’s legal system. (Your lawyers should advise on which of these to use.) There will be a number of pre-trial procedures after proceedings have been issued, ahead of the trial itself.
Here are some of its advantages:
- It provides a clear outcome that’s usually on the public record
- Court-mandated requirements and deadlines are usually difficult to ignore
- Parties can use precedent – i.e. refer to previous rulings in similar cases to support their own argument
- Appeals provide a clearly defined way forward if a mistake has been made
- Courts have clearly defined rules about what can be used in evidence
- For smaller cases that can be settled quickly, litigation can be a cost-effective way forward
- Litigation can be lengthy – but you will always have a clear result, and therefore closure, at the end
There are a number of ways parties can reach agreement outside the courtroom, and these tools are known as alternative or external dispute resolution methods. Dispute resolution can have the advantage of being time-efficient and economical when done properly. In the UK, its use is encouraged across various sectors.
The various options available include negotiation, mediation and arbitration. Negotiation is often a first step and is a voluntary, neutral arrangement which involves active listening and understanding the other side’s point of view. While it can be beneficial, the reality is that negotiations often fail.
Mediation and arbitration are similar processes, involving an independent third party to help the negotiations. Unlike with litigation, attendance is usually voluntary and there is no court order at the end; although it is often advisable to seek your lawyers advice on whether to have the position confirmed by a court.. A mediator can help devise a final agreement, but can’t impose a settlement. Arbitration, which comes up with a binding resolution, is a more formal process, and can be more adversarial. The decision of the arbitrator is final. Equally, it can be more expensive than mediation.
Dispute resolution can suit disputes involving multiple parties, since no court bureaucracy is involved. It’s also cost-effective, and everyone involved can control the whole process. However, it’s not always enough to settle highly complex cases.
Sometimes dispute resolution and litigation overlap, for example in collaborative law in which elements of both are used to reach an out-of-court settlement. Especially where children are involved, all parties work with their lawyers to come up with a resolution.
Here to help
At Hayes Forensics, we offer a full range of services to support your financial position using both litigation and dispute resolution. We will work alongside you and your lawyers to provide a fully tailored solution to match the particular circumstances. Get in touch today for a free consultation to discuss your requirements.