The world of business and commerce relies on a system of checks and balances in order to keep everything flowing along nicely. In general, one party can provide products or services to another giving good value, in return for financial remuneration. Of course, this does not always work as well as both parties would like, and a dispute can occasionally arise. The aggrieved party may know that they can take their case to a court of law to get satisfaction, but this really should be a last resort situation for a variety of different reasons.
Restore Customer Relationships
In most cases, a business can only be successful if it develops and maintains a good relationship with its customers. Certainly, some organisations may turn over such a volume that they have very little direct contact with the client, but in most cases, a "feel good" situation is very important.
Sometimes, however, a dispute can arise that can lead to hard feelings and it can be difficult to see beyond the argument on each side. One party may feel so put out that they want to go to court right away, to get as much compensation as they can to help them move forward. No matter how entrenched the position, however, this type of approach should be avoided at all costs.
Mediation & Arbitration
Instead of going straight to court, both parties should look for an independent mediator, once it has become clear that they cannot settle the agreement through conversation alone. In mediation, a neutral party will summarise the situation, put their view across and will hopefully help the parties to come to a conclusion. The process is still controlled by the original parties and it's legally non-binding, but it's a positive step forward.
If it's important to have a solution that is legally binding, then arbitration may be the next port of call. In this case, one or more members of the panel will go through the issue completely before coming to their own conclusion. This is still less formal and often less public than taking the situation to a conventional court, but arbitration should produce a conclusion that will be binding on both parties.
If you find yourself in this position and want to move forward while safeguarding a long-standing relationship, get in touch with a small business dispute resolution lawyer. They'll be able to bring in a form of mediation or arbitration as the next step.