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  • Writer's pictureAnn Skelton

Dispute Resolution - don't let it fester!

Updated: Oct 8, 2021

Whether your business is still operating or you're patiently getting things in order ready to commence trading again, it's clear it won't be business as usual for a long time, if ever. Whilst lockdown has affected all businesses, the impact of the lockdown on business will be far from uniform. This creates uncertainty but also provides opportunity to resolve commercial issues and disputes differently. This is the ideal time to identify current and future disputes that will need to be resolved and then spend some time getting prepared. Every dispute is different and can require different levels of intervention:

  • Identify disputes you can confidently handle without a third party advisor - often these are ones where you have a long-term relationship built up with the other party and you have operated through good and bad times before. Get onto them now - pick up the phone, create a Zoom meeting and get some agreement for 'next steps'.

  • Identify those potential disputes that you're not sure how they'll go - think about whether having a facilitator or third party involved in the discussions might make it easier to really say what you need to and to generate options for resolving the issue. This might involve a series of three-way conversations with both parties and the facilitator, or it could all be done in one session. These can easily be dealt with on-line now through Zoom, Microsoft Teams or other platforms.

  • The last category may be issues that were festering before the lockdown but now are compounded by delay, financial constraints and unknown business landscape. These would be well suited to a more formal mediation. These can be still be dealt with effectively under lockdown or other Covid restrictions. There is no need to wait.

Clearing the decks of disputes allows your mind to focus on option generation, business creativity and being the best business you can be. The stress and distraction of disputes can hold you back at a time when all your resources need to be future-focussed. As a country, we are pragmatic, practical and show great leadership. New Zealand's future economy depends on business taking this same approach to disputes.

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