Dispute Resolution

Dispute Resolution

Being involved in a legal dispute, whether at a personal or business level can be disruptive, costly, and stressful. We believe that many disputes can be resolved effectively through negotiation or alternative dispute resolution processes and in most cases we will suggest this approach before considering court proceedings.

We can assist with a range of matters including:

  • estate litigation,
  • family provision claims,
  • contract disputes,
  • partnership disputes,
  • Australian Consumer Law breaches,
  • corporate / director / shareholder disputes,
  • property and leasing matters,
  • building and construction disputes,
  • other civil and commercial disputes.

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Alternative dispute resolution processes can provide flexible outcomes that save time and resources. Such processes include negotiation, mediation, and conciliation.

Negotiation generally involves participation in discussion and the exchange of information, often between each parties’ legal representatives, to find a workable solution to a disputed matter without going to court.

Mediation involves a neutral person (the mediator) who assists and encourages the parties to a dispute to reach an outcome. The process is facilitative, and the mediator does not decide the matter. The parties should participate in good faith to reach a resolution.

Mediation is less formal and expensive than court proceedings and can generally offer more flexible solutions. If it does not entirely resolve the matter, it may at least narrow the issues in dispute. Mediation is usually confidential, and any agreement reached through this, or any other dispute resolution process, can be formalised in legally binding terms of settlement.

Contract disputes

Breach of contract disputes come in many shapes and sizes – at the heart of each the fundamental argument is generally that a binding agreement has been reached and for some reason a promise made by one of the parties has not been honoured. This is known as a breach of contract.

Remedies available to an aggrieved party for breach of contract will usually depend on the type of breach and the surrounding circumstances. Remedies include damages (compensation to the party who has suffered loss as a result of the breach), and / or court orders and injunctions (for example an order to fulfil the terms of the agreement or an order that prevents a party from doing something). A court may also determine that a breach is so significant that a contract is ended and may order the party in breach to return the innocent party to the position they were in prior to the contract being entered.

Domestic Building disputes

Domestic building disputes typically concern claims of incomplete or defective works, variations to the scope of works, prime cost items, delays, and payment claims.

Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV) is often the first port of call in resolving a domestic building dispute in Victoria. This agency assists parties to resolve disputes relating to issues such as defective or delayed work and can provide conciliation services to this effect.

If the dispute is not resolved by the DBDRV, the parties can then apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to decide the dispute.

Estate disputes

Estate disputes concern claims over the validity of a Will due to undue influence, allegations of fraud, or assertions that a testator lacked legal capacity to make the Will. Disputes may also involve the interpretation of ambiguous provisions of a Will or a challenge regarding the appointment of an executor. Estate litigation can be contentious and distressing as executors, administrators and family members struggle to cope with grief while defending their legal rights or the wishes of the deceased.

Family Provision Claims

We frequently manage cases involving family provision claims by aggrieved family members seeking further or better provision from an estate. A family provision claim may be made by an eligible person who must show that the deceased failed to make adequate provision for them.

Eligible persons generally include a spouse, former spouse, de facto partner, child of the deceased, or certain individuals who were in a close personal relationship with the deceased, or dependent on the deceased at the time of death. The criteria differ between jurisdictions and strict time limits apply for bringing a claim. We recommend obtaining early legal advice so we can guide you through this process, advise you on the possible outcomes and the likelihood of a successful claim.

Court litigation generally

Litigation refers to the commencement of legal proceedings in a relevant court with the objective of having a disputed matter resolved and a remedy awarded. Court disputes arise when two or more parties are unable to resolve a matter concerning their respective legal rights and obligations. The nature and value of such matters can vary significantly. Accordingly, different courts (and tribunals) have been established based on specific categories of disputes and the monetary value of a claim.

If you are involved in court proceedings, it is important to understand the relevant processes, the range of remedies that may be awarded, the likelihood of winning the case or successfully defending it, and the cost implications.

A cause of action must be based on a breach of legislation or the common law, which must be properly identified in the proceedings. Evidence may be led by documents, statements, video, or the like, to support the alleged breach and the strength of each parties’ evidence will be tested in the court room. Witnesses may be called to support your case or that of your opponent’s.

How can we help you?

Effective dispute resolution, whether informal or litigated, requires knowledge across various areas of law, complemented with excellent negotiation, advocacy, and case management skills. Court proceedings run to a strict timetable and litigation requires thorough preparation.

We provide quality representation to deliver tailored solutions for all types of legal disputes. We will work closely with you so that you are aware of your options and are properly prepared for your case.

If you need assistance, contact us at [email protected] or call 03 5985 3211.