- Commercial Services
- Commercial Dispute Resolution
Commercial Dispute Resolution
The department advises on a broad range of Commercial disputes, ranging from Commercial Landlord and Tenant issues, Commercial contract disputes, Company Law disputes, Minority Shareholder Actions, Company Directors' Disqualification Act Proceedings, Building disputes, Partnership Disputes, Professional negligence, Defamation and fraud, particularly in the Public Sector. The department also offers a competitively priced fixed fee package for debt recovery services.
We have extensive experience in using different options for dispute resolution, ranging from the Civil Procedure Rules and Court Service, to Adjudication and Arbitration. The firm has wide-ranging experience in Mediation and other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Commercial Landlord and Tenant DisputesServices include advice on lease provisions, licences, service of notices, defaulting tenants, termination of leases, forfeiture, surrender, levying distress for unpaid rent, breaches of covenant, dilapidations and 1954 Landlord and Tenant Act renewal issues.
Contractual DisputesOur clients seek advice from us on a wide range of existing and potential disputes, whether as Claimant, Defendant or as a third party. Typically the disputes cover contracts for supplies or contracts for services, in different commercial settings, ranging from termination to non-payment and performance.
Company Law DisputesThis is a vast area, and typically would include actions by a minority shareholder who is attempting to protect his interest in a company where there has been a fallout with the majority shareholder, related actions for unfair prejudice, actions to remove a Director, issues relating to Directors' Duties, applications to restore a defunct company to the Register, and defending proceedings brought under the Company Directors' Disqualification Act.
Building DisputesThese tend to arise in a number of different ways from small house extension projects, to much larger and more involved construction contracts, and can involve issues of warranty, such as NHBC (or similar), issues of professional negligence, against a surveyor or architect, or issues concerning the interpretation of contractual terms.
Frequently expert evidence will be required from a surveyor, and we are experienced in drawing together a team of experts to protect the interests of our clients.
Partnership DisputesPartnership disputes can be quite varied, not least because many partnerships have no Deed governing their relationship, and the terms of the relationship fall to be determined by the provisions of the Partnership Act. In common with minority shareholder actions under company law, if acting for an individual exiting partner, our remit will frequently be to secure the exit in such a way that secures his or her financial interest in the partnership, while if acting for the partnership, the emphasis will be to secure the best possible terms and the ongoing viability of the partnership.
ProcurementAdvising clients as to potential challenges and defending claims under the Public Contracts Regulations.
FraudFraud can give rise to civil sanctions as well as criminal sanctions. When a fraud is suspected, early legal advice must be sought. This is important to ensure that the fraud is brought to an end if it is still ongoing, to limit any further damage, to secure the whereabouts of any property or money wrongfully taken, and also to ensure that sufficient evidence is preserved in order to bring a successful claim against those alleged to have been acting fraudulently.
Frequently an injunction may be required from the Court, almost invariably expert input will be required from a forensic accountant or a suitably qualified investigator. If the alleged perpetrator of the fraud is an employee, then close attention will have to be given to the strength of the available evidence and the appropriate disciplinary procedures. If the alleged perpetrator of the fraud is a contractor, then the issue becomes one of early determination of the contract.
Debt RecoveryEven with the best credit control policy most businesses experience debtors who fail to pay for goods delivered or services rendered.
If payments are not made by suppliers, customers or clients, delays can adversely affect a businesses' cash flow. Payment delays ultimately cause thousands of businesses to fail. All businesses need to ensure that they have effective methods in place for the collection of money owed to them, and this is where Batchelors can help you. With our team's specialist knowledge of the court procedures we can guide you effortlessly through the court system, maximising the potential to secure payment of monies owed to your business. We offer a fixed fee package to clients who wish to recover unpaid invoices at minimal cost to themselves.
AdjudicationAdjudication is a legal process by which an Adjudicator examines evidence and arguments put forward by the parties to a dispute to reach a decision which determines the rights and obligations between those parties. It is common for this to arise either as a result of a contractual term or in construction where the relevant legislation is the Housing, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.
ArbitrationArbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for the resolution of disputes without reference to the Courts, where the parties in dispute agree to refer the dispute to one or more arbitrators and agree to be bound by the decision. The use of arbitration is common in commercial, consumer and employment matters, where arbitration may be mandated by the terms of employment or commercial contracts.
MediationAlongside more formal court procedures it is also important to consider whether any dispute might be capable of resolution by mediation. Mediation is a process aimed at examining the matter in a series of round table "without prejudice" discussions facilitated by a neutral Mediator. Mediation is particularly useful in negligence cases, as it is a confidential process that enables professional reputations to remain intact, but which also provides scope for an apology, as well as compensation, but without the stress of court proceedings, and without substantial costs.
Mediation is therefore much more flexible in its potential outcome than court proceedings, is much quicker to reach a solution, and can even preserve working relationships, where for instance the professional adviser has an on going commercial relationship with the client by producing "win-win outcomes".
What is the small claims court?Any claim brought in the County Court is allocated to one of three tracks; the small claims track, the fast track or the multi-track.
The small claims track is the normal track for any claim which has a financial value of not more than £5,000. However, if the issues to be determined at a hearing are complex (i.e. may require more than ½ a day of court time to be resolved) the claim may be allocated to either the fast-track or the multi-track.
Fast-track claims are normally between £5,000 and £25,000 in value whereas multi-track claims are normally valued at in excess of £25,000.
Can I recover costs from my opponent?The general rule in both County Court and High Court litigation is that the loser pays the winner's costs. However, costs orders are only made "after the event" (i.e. once any decision has been made) and the Court has a wide discretion when making costs orders. Typically, unless there are extraordinary circumstances, in the region of 70% to 80% of costs incurred will be recoverable from an successful opponent upon assessment by the Court.
Do you offer no-win, no-fee type arrangements?In some circumstances we are able to offer our clients no-win, no-fee type Conditional Fee Arrangements. We would be happy to discuss this with you should this be applicable to your particular case.
Typically Conditional Fee Arrangements are backed-up by an "after the event" insurance product for which a premium is usually payable.
How long will I have to wait before my claim goes to Court?Unfortunately, while recent years have noted significant improvements, claims can still take some time to reach Court.
The actual length of time a dispute takes to reach Court can vary and will depend upon the issues which need to be determined, the track to which the claim is allocated (see above) and whether expert evidence is required to assist the Court. However, in each case we will seek to resolve your dispute at the earliest possible opportunity and at least possible cost to you, and it may be that alternative dispute resolution methods will mean that your case does not have to go to Court in order to be resolved.
Can I use mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution to resolve my dispute?It is becoming increasingly common for commercial (and other) disputes to be resolved without the need for court intervention and by a form of alternative dispute resolution. Forms of alternative dispute resolution include Arbitration, Adjudication and Mediation and we will advise you of the suitability of one or more of the same at various stages as your case progresses.
Will I be able to speak to you easily if I need an urgent answer to a query?In common with other departments in the firm, we will always provide you with a fee earner's direct telephone line. Under our Client Charter we are also committed to returning your telephone calls on the same day or if not possible within twenty four hours. All our partners are available by mobile telephone.
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