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What You Need to Know About Litigation

Sometimes people are unable to resolve disputes among themselves. In these situations, you need an expert skilled in negotiation to help resolve your dispute. Legal disputes can be difficult, stressful, and overwhelming with options where you need to make critical decisions. There are many facets to litigation, from simply communicating with the other person in an attempt to resolve your dispute, to going to court when the matter cannot be finalised through any other means.

Starting Litigation

Litigious matters do not often start by going to court. They start with a dispute, where two people or parties cannot agree on a particular matter or issue. Our clients often come to us for advice when they have tried to work the matter out themselves and have been unable to, and simply do not know what their options are.

After an initial consultation, our solicitors will advise you on the best course of action for your particular matter. One of the first steps in litigation process is to write a letter to the other person or party (or their solicitors) to narrow down the issues and see what solutions are available to resolve the matter. Sometimes this is all that is required, which is a time-saving, cost-effective end to your legal issue. If this does not result in the dispute being resolved, the next step in the litigation process is usually mediation.

Mediation

Mediation, or other forms of alternative dispute resolution, can offer pathways to solutions that save you time, costs and reduce the potential uncertainty of formal court proceedings.

What Happens At Mediation?

Most disputes can be resolved with correspondence between lawyers. Mediation is almost always the next step, whether court proceedings have been issued or not. The parties can choose to hold an informal mediation. This can be effective if there is a likelihood of the parties being able to come to a compromise with the view to resolve the matter. In other instances, this is either not appropriate, or viable, and thus the court will almost always orders the parties to mediate before allowing a matter to proceed to trial.

In both formal, and informal mediation, the mediator will be provided with the facts in the matter (and if a court proceeding is on foot, any court documents). The mediation starts with all parties in one room. Each party will state their side of the story. The parties then go to their own rooms and narrow the issues and make an offer. If they agree, the parties will sign a deed of settlement and the court proceeding will not proceed. Even if the dispute is not settled at mediation, the matter will proceed through the courts, and onto trial. Even if the parties do not settle the matter at medication, the process will narrow the issues and reduce costs at court.

Informal Mediation

The parties might agree to meet face-to-face, with their lawyers, to try and narrow the issues and come to a compromise that both parties will be able happy enough with. These types of mediations are voluntary, with both sides of the dispute consenting to meet at an agreed venue, with a mediator of their choosing. This might be a good option if you are looking for a quicker, and less costly resolution to your matter. If the dispute is resolved at this type of mediation, you and the other side agree to a Deed of Settlement, which is drafted by one of the solicitors. The Deed of Settlement will include the terms of the agreement. It will specify the details of your agreement and is enforceable if one of you does not adhere to the terms. You and the other side will sign it, making it binding. If both sides adhere to the terms of the Deed of Settlement, your legal issue will end there, having come to a resolution.

If informal mediation is not a viable option for your legal matter, and court proceedings have begun, the court may order mediation to give the parties a chance to come to a resolution without continuing onto trial.

Court Ordered Mediation

Court ordered mediation will usually involve a professional mediator or court registrar. In some cases, the registrar of the court will be the mediator while in other cases, the parties will propose professional mediators, and then choose one they can both agree on. Unlike informal mediation, the parties will usually agree to meet a neutral venue. It is at this point of the litigation process that both sides of the dispute will put forward their main arguments, and determine if there is room for a compromise to reach an agreement. Normally, with a view to costs on both sides, and timeliness, both you and the other side will try to reach an agreement that you can both live with, under expert advice from our experienced solicitors. This is particularly the case as we will give you realistic prospects of success in attaining the best outcome for your legal issue.

If this type of alternative dispute resolution is the best option for you, SGM Legal brings the same developed advocacy skills to alternative dispute resolution as we bring to the courtroom.

SGM Legal is highly experienced in all aspects of mediation and pre-trial negotiations. Our highly-skilled solicitors will advocate on your behalf and represent your best interests during mediation. Should you reach an agreement, we will also negotiate and draft the terms of settlement, regardless of how complex the matter may be.

In some cases, court ordered mediation may seem like an unnecessary, costly step in the process if both parties feel there is simply no way they can meet in the middle and resolve the issue. If this is the case, proceeding on to trial may be in both the parties’ best interests.

It is at this point that you will be guided and advised by our solicitors to help you through what can be a complex, confusing, and stressful experience.

The prospect of having to go to court can be a daunting and complex prospect for many. SGM Legal has experience in a wide range of civil litigation matters from VCAT to the Supreme Court that guide you through the process with honest advice, in a compassionate manner. We can ease any fears you may have, and are always on call to answer your questions or address your concerns.

Going to court does not have to be the scary, expensive experience many may think. Usually going to court involves a lot of gathering of documents, obtaining reports from experts if required, and communicating with the other side. SGM Legal aims to make the process and your experience of litigation as seamless, and cost effective, as possible.

We have extensive experience in assisting clients with various types of commercial litigation, including (but not limited to):

  • Commercial and business transactions
  • Partnership and franchise disputes
  • Breach of contract or unfair contract terms
  • Debt recovery
  • Breach of fiduciary duties
  • Property and construction disputes

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