Contractual disputes

Contractual disputes occur when two or more parties enter into a contract and there are issues in relation to the performance of the contract. Disputes can be frustrating, time consuming and costly, if not handled thoroughly and efficiently.

Our solicitors are experienced at reviewing the terms of the contract to identify the relevant clauses and where and to what extent any breaches have occurred.

In the absence of a written contract, our Solicitors will review correspondence between the parties involved regarding the related work. An email or a letter will provide details of the time frame, scope of work and description of a product or service provided, and an invoice will provide information about pricing.

It is crucial to determine the severity of the breach(es), who committed them and what clauses apply in order to establish the potential ramifications to each party. Serious breaches may result in the termination of the contract and the innocent party can claim damages for their loss. However, less serious breaches  may give rise to only direct damages as a result of the breach with the remainder of the contract intact and enforceable.

There are key clauses to check in addition to the breached clause(s) when reviewing a contract such as:

  • Which country’s law governs the contract?
  • What does the contract say with regard to non-binding Alternate Dispute Resolution? This type of clause focuses on parties reaching a ‘without prejudice’ agreement and if successful is often a quicker, more flexible and cost effective way of resolving an issue. The clause will provide information as to which steps you and the other party must take on a non-binding basis to resolve the dispute before entering into litigation. Due to the ‘without prejudice’ nature, pursuing this avenue first doesn’t compromise the parties’ position if a settlement is not reached and the matter proceeds to litigation. The aim of this clause is to encourage the parties to reach a resolution to the problem, outside of Court. This can include avenues such as negotiation and mediation.
  • Is there a Dispute Resolution clause? This clause is a binding form of dispute resolution which allows the parties to submit their dispute to a neutral third party to determine how to best settle the matter outside of litigation. The most common alternatives to litigation are arbitration agreements or expert adjudication.
  • Is there a tiered dispute resolution clause? This clause outlines agreements reached at the outset of the contractual relationship to utilise a representative to resolve the dispute.

If resolution cannot be reached and the dispute proceeds to litigation, parties must adhere to the Civil Procedure Rules. There is an expectation of the Court that parties will comply with the Pre-Action Protocols prior to commencing proceedings and failure to do so can result in penalties.

Our solicitors are experienced in dealing with a wide range of contractual disputes spanning various business areas and can advise and guide clients through the process. Our solicitors are knowledgeable of and can ensure compliance with the Civil Procedure Rules and Pre-Action Protocols so that client’s claims are brought as cost effectively and efficiently as possible without criticism or penalties.

Once proceedings have been issued, our solicitors ensure the smooth running of cases, meeting of Court directions and will either handle the matter from start to finish or instruct experienced Counsel to handle the advocacy on the client’s behalf, if required.

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