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Dealing with General Disputes

It is an unfortunate fact of life that, built into every business or other relationship, there is the seed of a future dispute. This is true whether we are talking about hiring a car, getting on with your neighbour, renting out your apartment or booking a holiday. Dealing with such disputes can be time consuming and expensive.

Many foreigners settling in a new country seem to get involved in quite a large number of disputes, many of which stem from their lack of understanding of the way things are done in the country in question and their underlying assumption that it will all be 'more or less the same as at home'. Usually it is not!

The best - and cheapest - way of dealing with a dispute is to stop it from happening in the first place!  We can help you avoid disputes in three main ways:

  • By helping you understand the culture in the country where you are going to be living,working or visiting and how to avoid the basic mistakes made by foreigners living there. This can be done by way of a preliminary meeting, telephone conference call or video conference. This should, ideally, take place at a very early stage in your planning process. It can also be done by attending one or more of our seminars, particularly aimed at people going to live in the country in question. These have the additional advantage of allowing you to meet and network with people thinking of doing something similar to what you are wanting to do. They are also a cheaper option! See our seminar programme for details.

  • By making sure that your contracts and other business documents are properly drafted. Contracts and business documents must reflect the culture and requirements of the local market. They will often look very different from the sort of contract that you would use in your own country and they will often contain material that you might think either irrelevant or self evident. This adjustment of documents to the local market conditions can be a key ingredient in preventing later misunderstandings and so preventing costly and time consuming disputes.

  • By providing and early response service. By contacting our member in the country at the very first sign of anything going wrong in the relationship he or she can use their skills, knoweldge of the local environment and their local contacts to help you diffuse and solve the difficulty before it becomes a problem. A small amount of money spent at this stage can save a great deal of time and money later.

Dealing with a dispute

If, despite your best endeavours, a dispute arises it is best dealt with promptly. Disputes that are left to fester get worse, not better.

There are many different ways of dealing with disputes. The best way for you and in your circumstances will depend upon the nature of the dispute, who it is with and it's financial or other importance to you.

There are, bascially, three stages in dealing with a dispute. In each case, time and money invested at an early stage may well avoid the later - and more expensive - stages.

  • Negotiation. It is often easier, once matters have reached a certain point, for effective negotiation to take place between or guided by lawyers rather than purely between the representatives of the two parties involved. They may be too dug in to their positions or they may not fully understand the legal parameters within which they must work as they are the parameters that will be applied by any court that ultimately has to deal with the dispute.

  • Conciliation or Arbitration. These are alternatives to going to court. They are usually much cheaper and faster. Just as importantly, they can often preserve a relationship between the parties in dispute, which is usually impossible if matters progress all the way to court. See our legal guide to Alternative Dispute Resolution, to the right of this page.

  • Going to Court. In any country, going to court should be your last resort. It is always expensive, stressful and - most importantly - very time consuming. There is never any guaranteed outcome to the proceedings. Going to court will usually damage, beyond repair, your relationship with your opponent. Nonetheless, there are times when it is unavoidable. If you do have to go to court it is very important to choose the right court, the right tactics and to take the necessary steps as soon as it becomes clear that they are needed. See our Legal Guide to Going to Court, to the right of this page.

Dealing with disputes requires a detailed knowledge of local law, local customs, local taxes and local business methods as well as the same level of knowledge about the law and tax systems in your own country. We cannot stress enough that it is the interaction - and sometimes conflict - between the two systems that creates most of the potential problems and many of the best potential opportunities for saving you time, trouble and money. The savings and improvements in business performance can be huge!

Next steps

Please look at the Legal Guides, videos, MP3 seminars and other materials set out to the right of this page.

If you would like us to help you, please complete our Client Pack and send it back to us. We will contact you to clarify your requirements and then introduce you to the person most appropriate to deal with your case.

If you do not find the information that you need, please send us an email explaining your problem and we will contact you.

© The International Law Partnership Ltd. Page last revised 5 Feb 2010