When a large group of people get together, there will no doubt be some disagreements. People all have their own unique personalities and views, so it’s only natural for some of them to clash.
Not only can there be disputes within your workplace, if you offer services there can be disputes between your business and its customers.
Unlike personal clashes, there are laws and regulations for when it happens at work. So you can’t just let them sort themselves out, you need to intervene internally and resolve it. If not, there can be costly tribunal cases if dealt with formally.
While you can’t always prevent this from happening, you can help resolve disputes effectively.
Here we’ll look at the law on dispute resolution and how you can best handle them.
What is dispute resolution?
In its most basic form, dispute resolution is when you try to find a solution to a disagreement between two or more parties. It can affect working relationships and relationships between a consumer and a company.
What can complicate dispute resolution is the method by which you resolve the dispute. This is because the various forms of resolution have a range of factors and costs.
One other factor you need to consider is the laws protecting employees or consumers. This will help you decide which method to deploy.
Dispute resolution law
First, you need to check any contractual law between you and the other party. Many contracts, particularly those drafted in the past 10 years, are likely to have a dispute resolution clause specifying how disputes are to be dealt with.
The UK legal system also has taken a stance to encourage resolution based processes. If a contract has a provision for mediation or arbitration to resolve a dispute, a party who ignores this is almost certainly going to end up being criticised by a court with financial consequences.
Courts will take a dim view of parties who simply litigate with no attempt to resolve the dispute on a more informal basis. So beware, the costs and penalties in such scenarios can be harsh. Proceeding without an attempt to settle matters will leave you worse off even if you win.
This makes the process doubly important.
Dispute resolution process
Dispute resolution processes fall into two major types:
- Legal processes: litigation or arbitration, in which a judge, jury or arbitrator determines the outcome.
- Alternative dispute resolution (ADR): collaborative law, mediation, conciliation, or negotiation, in which the parties attempt to agree.
As mentioned before, the courts can view heading straight to a legal process negatively. So exploring forms of ADR is essential.
However, if the other party insists on the legal route, you only need to show you attempted to resolve it alternatively.
Methods of dispute resolution
When there's a disagreement ('dispute') between two or more people or groups, a resolution process can try to help both sides come to an agreement.
There are several ways you can do this, each with its own pros and cons.
- Discussion: reaching a compromise to settle an argument or dispute, primarily through private discussions carried out between the parties or their representatives.
- Litigation: a formal dispute resolution process conducted in public in the courts. The judge makes a judgment that is binding on the parties, subject to the right of appeal on a point of law.
- Arbitration: a formal dispute resolution process. However, unlike litigation, arbitration is conducted in private and the process is confidential.
- Mediation: a consensual process conducted in private. The mediator is an independent third party, who helps the parties agree in order to settle the dispute.
- Conciliation: similar to mediation but the conciliator can make recommendations to the parties. If conciliation cannot resolve the dispute, the conciliator can produce a recommendation.
Expert support on dispute resolution in the UK with Peninsula
Disputes are tricky, especially if you have a small team. Here at Peninsula, we can help you with every step. This includes representation, to make things a bit less personal.
Get our expert team to draft policy for you. Peninsula clients get access to 24/7 HR to consult our specialists on or secure air-tight contracts with our document experts.
And if you’re not yet a client, you can still enjoy a free advice call from one of our business experts. Simply call us on 0800 028 2420