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Alkalay & Smillie, PLLC

in Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire

Office: (603) 447-8994
Fax: (603) 297-2866

Articles of Interest

Attorney Edward Alkalay writes a regular column for the Conway Daily Sun newspaper entitled "The Legal Corner." His articles address a wide variety of timely legal issues. Click on the titles below to review his past articles.

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The Legal Corner: How to achieve a meaningful resolution to a business dispute

July 30, 2008

Arguments, conflicts, and legal disputes with customers, vendors, employees, or a partner, are highly disruptive and costly for any business. These conflicts should be avoided if possible and dealt with in as cordial and as timely a manner as possible. Otherwise, they potentially will cause great damage to your business and your business relationships. As a business owner, manager or employee, you should seek to reach a resolution where all parties are satisfied.

The following is a list of suggestions for how to avoid and/or resolve business disputes:

1.It’s not personal - it’s business.
In the movie The Godfather, Michael Corleone was very successful at running his “business” because he understood the nature of his business – he did not make personal decisions; he made business decisions. Now, to be clear, I do not suggest that anyone seek to resolve disputes the way that Michael Corleone did, but in your business, you will often be on the receiving end of complaints. The real issue is not trying to avoid complaints altogether (because that is nearly impossible) but how you are able to deal with the complaints. Handling disputes in a cordial manner, and avoiding long-term damage to a business relationship should be your main goal.

2.Focus on your long-term interest.
Try to find an outcome where your business retains its best interests as its main objective. Don’t get obsessed with winning a particular dispute or conflict if that is not necessarily the best position for the business in the long run. Do not let disagreements deteriorate into personality disputes.

3.Try to resolve the issue quickly.
The longer a dispute lasts, the more damage will likely be done to the relationship. This may damage your business both in the short and the long run. Talk through the issue and reach a resolution.

4.Avoid legal costs.
If you can avoid going to court, do it. Legal costs are expensive. Court dockets are backed up. Legal matters are stressful. You may need a lawyer to help you resolve the matter, but if you can, try to avoid filing a case in court. There will be occasion where you will have to file an action in court. Make sure that those instances are rare.

5.Alternative dispute resolution.
Mediation and other forms of dispute resolution are ways for a neutral third party to try to help the parties resolve the matter. If the parties are unable to resolve the matter between themselves, it is often helpful to have another party aid them in coming to a resolution.

6.Do not burn your bridges
Disputes happen, especially in difficult economic times. Anyone in business should realize this right away. The key is to recognize that disputes will arise, and to try to reach to a positive outcome, so that both parties are satisfied (or at least not angry). Resolving a business dispute in a positive manner not only avoids present costs and issues, but can engender positive feelings for the future. In business, this is critical.

Business conflicts happen. How you deal with them often determines whether you will be successful in your business or not.

Edward D. Alkalay is a partner at Alkalay & Smillie PLLC and can be reached at (603)447-8994 or ed@northconwaylawyers.com. (This article conveys general information and should not be relied on for legal advice without further research and/or consultation with an attorney.)

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By: Edward D. Alkalay