How to Settle Legal Disputes

Looking to resolve a legal dispute but don’t know where to start?

Find out more about legal disputes in our guides: 
Financial disputes: How, why, and when to make a claim
How to deal with neighbour disputes
How to resolve consumer disputes the right way

The most common disputes fall into the following categories: However, if you find yourself looking to resolve an uncommon or unusual dispute, then getting legal advice may be the best course of action.

What are common disputes?

Disputes of a financial, social, or shopping nature tend to be a lot easier to pursue.

That’s not to say you’ll get the resolution you hope for or that the case isn’t complex, but because they’re so common, you’ll find a very clear path to follow for resolution.

We’ve outlined your steps in our comprehensive guides for financial disputes, neighbour disputes, and consumer disputes.

Financial disputes arise when you believe a person or company owes you money. If you live in England or Wales and you’re owed £10,000 or less, you can make a small claim – a court process designed for simple disputes over money. Should the court find your claim to be complex, or if the other party disputes your claim, then you may need to attend a hearing. This may also include applying for bankruptcy proceedings.

Neighbour disputes, while wide-ranging, tend to focus on three areas: noise disputes, planning disputes, and boundary disputes. In many cases, the council will help, monitor the situation, and take further action against your neighbour if the issue ‘unreasonably or substantially interferes with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises’ or may ‘injure health or be likely to injure health’.

Consumer disputes, backed by the Consumer Rights Act 2015, are designed to ensure anything you buy is fit ‘for purpose, of satisfactory quality, and as described’. This applies to goods, services, and digital content. If a business has mis-sold a product or poorly performs a service, you’re within your rights to make a complaint; try to get a refund, replacement, or re-do any service; and take legal action.

How are disputes handled? 

Generally, there are three steps to follow to resolve a dispute.
  • Informal communication
Sorting out these disputes typically it begins with informal communication. For example, if you believe someone owes you money, it’s best to directly raise the matter with them – keeping evidence of this, such as emails, is essential.

Going to court should always be a last resort, and officials will want to see you tried everything you could to resolve the situation well before escalation.

Often, a simple prompt – say, to your neighbour about their overgrown hedge – is enough to solve the problem.
  • Mediation
Mediation is the next step. This gives you (the claimant) and the other party (the defendant) a chance to talk it out in the presence of a mediator.

A mediator is someone who acts as an impartial and independent adjudicator. They have no real legal authority and their role is to see if two parties locked in a dispute can come to some agreement.

During these sessions, if you and the other party agree on an outcome, the mediator will draw up a binding contract. The court will then take this into consideration in their ruling.

In some cases, if you haven’t already attended mediation, the court will order you to do so. The Civil Mediation Council serves up plenty of information about how the system works and how to choose a mediator.
  • Legal action
When all else fails, despite your best efforts, then you may find you need to take your dispute to the next level.

In the most common forms of dispute, the first step is to write to the other party to outline your complaint and inform them that legal proceedings will begin (usually after 14 days). If you already have a legal representative, you can ask them to do this for you.

If you’re considering taking legal action, your circumstances often determine your course of action. You’ll find you need to submit a specific form or notify a particular official or organisation, too.

Why do I need a dispute resolution solicitor?

Even if your issue is unusual, it’s still best to follow the above steps, just as you would to de-escalate or resolve any other dispute.

However, since the dispute’s uncommon, it’s absolutely worth seeking legal advice from a solicitor as soon as possible. The law can be confusing and expensive and it’s generally not advisable to continue without a legal professional by your side. That’s especially true for other disputes – ranging from tenancies to defamation of character.

The Law Superstore can help you find a solicitor adept at handling disputes. Your solicitor will be able to:
  • Assess your claim and possible outcomes
  • Look for options that don’t involve the courts
  • Attempt dispute resolution with the other party
  • Costs you may incur going
  • Guide you through the process of taking legal action
  • Gather evidence to strengthen your case
  • Serve your claim, or intention to take legal action, with the court or defendant
  • Represent you in court
  • Enforce any judgements made by the court

Can I get a dispute resolution solicitor before going to court? 

Whether your dispute is with an individual, group, or company, you’re unsure what kind of help you need, or don’t know how the law can help deliver a solution, it’s time to consult a legal expert to explore your options.

You don’t need to wait until you’re prepared to take the other party to court. That’s especially true of uncommon disputes, since it’s not always clear where you stand (or even if you have a case at all).

Use our quick quote form to find a solicitor who can give you expert guidance, helping you quickly resolve your dispute.

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