Dispute resolution should always be the first port of call before entering into litigation; that is, suing another party. Disputes are best resolved by parties talking to one another. This can be done through their lawyers. Often skilled lawyers can effectively flesh out what the core issues of the dispute are, what the contract says or what has been implied so far and the legal position of either party if the matter did proceed to litigation.
It is important that you seek professional legal advice in any commercial dispute. It is not uncommon for people to have over or under expectations when attempting to resolve their own dispute. An under expectation may see you left with a lot less then you are entitled. However, an over expectation may see you spending good time and money pursuing something that you will likely never get.
If the lawyers are unable to reach an agreement for the parties, the next step may involve mediation or in some commercial contracts arbitration. This is where the parties sit down in front of a mediator or arbitrator and voice their sides. The mediator or arbitrator will steer the conversation towards a settlement outcome with a view to satisfying the concerns of each party. The difference between mediation and arbitration is that mediation is not binding, while arbitration is.
The first stage in the litigation process now involves a Court imposed mediation prior to the matter being heard. This ensures that the mediation has been attempted and that at least the major issues have been fleshed out. Most civil matters never get to a full hearing at Court. They are often resolved through court appointed mediation or the lawyers ongoing attempt to broker a resolution.
Where a resolution cannot be brokered and the matter does go to Court, you will need a lawyer to guide you through the procedural and legal aspects of the litigation. Depending on the type of matter and the amount involved, there may be a requirement to engage a Barrister for further advice and to present your matter in Court.
Different disputes are heard in different jurisdictions. For example a dispute involving less than $100,000.00 will often be heard in the Magistrates Court, while a higher amount will be heard in the County or Supreme Courts. The County Court has unlimited monetary jurisdiction. Small claim consumer law matters, such as misleading and deceptive conduct can be heard in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Disputes involving intellectual property will be heard in the Federal Circuit Court or the Federal Court, which Court again depends on the value of the dispute. Small and large building and planning disputes will generally always be heard at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal where it is the only jurisdiction for these types of disputes.
Litigation can become time consuming, costly and cause a lot of emotional distress for all of those involved. It is not uncommon for drawn out litigation to end up costing in legal fees well in excess of the claim that was actually made. While a successful party will often be awarded costs, those costs are often no more than 50% of what has actually been spent.
Consequently, we always seek to avoid litigation, but are highly experienced in the area should you need to go to Court.
Whether you need lawyers in Knox, Waverley, Boronia, Wantirna, or elsewhere in Melbourne, we can assist you with dispute resolution.
You can contact us by phone at (03) 9763 6399 or through our online enquiry form.