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Find Lawyers in the United Kingdom for Commercial Dispute Resolution

Practice Area Overview

Disputes are a feature of commercial life. They can include disputes about the meaning and effect of a contract, claims for damages for breach of contract or for negligence, disputes between shareholders, or claims for fraud. 

Dispute resolution lawyers, also known as commercial litigators, advise clients how best to resolve these disputes either prior to or by means of litigation. 

Parties will naturally seek, if possible, to resolve disputes at an early stage, ideally before the issue of court proceedings but in any event as soon as possible prior to a trial. Indeed, the English and Welsh courts require parties to follow protocols of conduct before issuing proceedings to seek to settle or, at least, narrow issues in dispute. Being able accurately to assess the merits of a dispute, to effectively present arguments in pre-action correspondence/discussions, and to elaborate realistic settlement strategy are all key skills of the commercial litigator.?

Where parties are unable to resolve disputes between themselves, they may need to seek recourse to the courts. Key steps in court litigation leading to a trial include setting out the parties’ respective positions in statements of case (pleadings), disclosing documents which help or harm a party’s case, and taking witness statements from intended witnesses. Disputes can also require expert technical evidence from accountants or other specialists. 

In emergencies, temporary injunctions may need to be sought from the court, for example, to freeze assets of a defendant or prevent some other immediate harm pending a full trial of the issues.

Litigation does not always end with the handing down of a judgment by the court following trial or an appeal. Obtaining a judgment is one thing, enforcing it can be something else, particularly if the debtor seeks to avoid enforcement by concealing assets. There are various methods of enforcement and tools for gathering information to aid the process.

Reflecting the increasing globalization of commerce, much commercial litigation now has an international element involving overseas parties, contracts, assets, or laws, which gives rise to additional challenges. Often related litigation will be ongoing in multiple jurisdictions requiring careful co-ordination.

Commercial litigators assist in all these aspects of disputes with the aim of achieving their client’s objectives in the most cost-efficient way.

Andrew Hearn, Partner Dechert
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