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Why should you negotiate?

Who remembers the scene in “The Life of Brian” where the trader insists the proposed buyer must haggle, rather than pay the price being requested?  That scene reminds our own Gary Pettit of what it can be like in dispute resolution matters, whether that is in relation to a financial claim or a dispute in management.

Taking legal action is a risky business for various reasons but, more so these days as the courts are demonstrating their preference to disputing parties avoiding court intervention and resolving their issues by way of alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”).  It does not matter how strong you believe your position is; the failure to engage in ADR could lead to a pyrrhic victory as you may win, but that ADR failure results in you being on the wrong end of a costs award.  In one reported case, the respondent won (as they confidently (and, as it turned out, correctly) stated in pre-court correspondence their liability amounted to £10,000) but, because they refused to entertain ADR, the court ordered them to pay some £200,000 in adverse costs!

The stance adopted by the courts is understandable.  At every stage of a litigious matter there is an opportunity to reach a negotiated settlement.  Yet, all too often a dispute deteriorates into a war of words and accusations where (particularly in management disputes) the original cause of the dispute can be forgotten.

The real danger of management disputes is, almost without fail, warring directors focus on the emotions of the dispute and forget they still owe statutory duties toward the company.  That oversight can often lead to more serious consequences for those directors, including personal liability.

As a CEDR accredited mediator, Gary Pettit of PBC says.

“A key problem with any dispute is that the parties argue.  I appreciate that sounds like I am stating the obvious, but they argue rather than listen or look at the reality of the potential consequences of the failure to consider ADR may cause.  It cannot be a coincidence that when I ask parties what it is they actually want, together with getting them to understand the potential consequences of not reaching a negotiated settlement more often than not, the dispute gets resolved.”

If you require any advice or assistance on alternative dispute resolution or any insolvency-related issue, then please contact PBC Business Recovery & Insolvency to discuss and advise on your situation on 01604 212150 (Northampton),  01908 488653 (Milton Keynes) or email to  Alternatively, visit for further information.