Expert Advice

Breaking up is hard to do

Karyn Starmer24 September 2019
Meyer Vandenberg Lawyers

Preparation is key at Meyer Vandenberg. Photos: Region Media.

The prospect of going to court can strike fear in the hearts and minds of even the most seasoned business owners. Litigation can be expensive and traumatising, but disputes that head down the path to court often don’t need to end up there.

Meyer Vandenberg Lawyers special counsel and litigation expert Harry Kay says, “Courts are the stuff of television drama but there is no point in having a fight just because you can. There are alternatives to litigation”. The alternatives include negotiation, mediation, expert determination, arbitration or, if you are a builder, adjudication.

Harry Kay says well-prepared businesses can avoid a dispute turning into a conflict but clear communication is key.

“Many problems occur when there is a breakdown in the ordinary process of doing business, where there are lots of moving parts. A lost email, for example, can be the first source of problems but things can be worked out at that stage,” Mr Kay said.

Meyer Vandenberg’s next Lunchtime Legal Forum on Wednesday, 25 September tackles the issue business disputes head-on.

Called Breaking up is hard to do, the forum will cover strategies for dealing with disputes with clients or suppliers, including how you can give yourself the best chance of resolving a legal battle before it gets out of control.

“We want to help people understand what litigation actually involves and what the alternatives are, rather than going to court, and how to work out which option is best,” Mr Kay said.

Harry Kay, Special Counsel at Meyer Vandenberg.

The session will cover how to avoid turning a dispute into a conflict altogether.

“Businesses have the option of avoiding action in the first instance or having to take action later. Good systems, having things in writing, keeping good records and following the terms of a contract all help when a dispute arises.

“Litigation involves a lot of work in the background for both the lawyer and the client. The client will get the best outcome if they understand their role. Preparation is important. If the dispute proceeds to litigation, having all the information available will help enormously.”

Deciding to pursue litigation is a big step that requires skilled decision making.

Partner and leader of Meyer Vandenberg’s dispute resolution team Alisa Taylor says, “Sometimes you need to take a stand in your business relationships, which can mean ending that relationship. The question is then, what next? Do you pursue the losses you have suffered because of broken promises? Or do you write it off as a bad experience?

“A good lawyer can tell you whether you have a case worth pursuing. A great lawyer will give you holistic advice about all the available strategies for recovering from the breakup and whether litigation is the best option,” Ms Taylor said.

If litigation is the only option, the forum will give tips on keeping costs under control and improving your prospects of success.

“Litigation is an investment you only get to make once and if you are ill-prepared you could throw good money after bad; or worse, end up having to pay your adversary their costs,” Ms Taylor said.

The forum is part of a series of free learning forums for Meyer Vandenberg’s business clients with their commercial litigation lawyers, designed to troubleshoot common business scenarios.

Dispute & litigation tips for business: Breaking up is hard to do
Wednesday 25 September 2019, 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm.

Register to attend by emailing [email protected] (spaces are limited).

Alisa Taylor, Head of Litigation at Meyer Vandenberg.

Original Article published by Karyn Starmer on The RiotACT.

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