No matter where you look, you won’t find another firm with a better understanding of the implications that an emerging dispute has on a growing business.

Leaving debt collection aside, when you start a business, it’s difficult to imagine why let alone how you would ever end up in a dispute situation. Yet one of the hallmarks of its maturity are the scars a business bears from its first serious dispute… and the lessons that it learns along the way. Disputes with customers often begin with debt collection issues. Customers who are reluctant payers often come up with complaints over quality or fitness for purpose when pushed for settlement. Sometimes those complaints are justified, sometimes not. Over the years that we’ve been doing this work, we’ve learned that careful administration of your credit control systems is key to avoiding the escalation of these disputes. Dealing with issues raised sensitively and sympathetically whilst being prepared to dismiss unfounded criticism is crucial and the ability to know the difference only comes with experience. Likewise, when you have a problem with your supplier, adopting an open approach to addressing the issues you have can help elicit a more appropriate response from the supplier in question. In both situations, taking early advice on the interpretation of the contractual position and the identification of an appropriate and proportionate response is essential. As nasty as disputes with customers and suppliers can be, they pale alongside disputes with business partners - joint venture partners, distributors and agents, franchisors or franchisees. And worse even than that, disputes between shareholders. In fact, in our experience, the single biggest killer of startups in their first year or so is not lack of traction or of revenue (pre-market fit, these teams can live for months off dreams and fairy dust) but disputes between the founders, which can lead to paralysis. And worse, litigation. No matter where you look, you won’t find another firm with a better understanding of the implications that an emerging dispute has on a growing business. Because our experience is not merely of advising clients but comes through the disputes we’ve managed to survive as a fast-growing early-stage business ourselves. And if you’re already well-established, we have plenty of experience of working alongside in-house counsel to find effective and economic resolutions to this most emotive of practice areas.

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