Contract Dispute Attorney – We Handle
Contract Issues at All Stages of a Dispute

Your company relies on contracts to keep your business running smoothly. When you have contract disputes with your vendors, suppliers, partners, or customers it keeps you from doing what you do best

Our firm can help you resolve contract disputes so you can get back to business. With our years of extensive contract drafting, negotiation, and litigation experience we are able to help you resolve your contract issues as quickly as possible, while still protecting your interests.

Because we understand what it takes to win a trial, we have an advantage when it comes to resolving contract disputes without having to resort to litigation. We are able to use a variety of tools to help you end your contract disputes and get on with your business. However, the other side also knows that we will aggressive represent our client’s interests, and we are not afraid to go to trial when that is our client’s best option.

Contact us today to see how we can help you resolve your contract dispute. Often, the earlier in the process you involve an attorney, the easier it is to resolve a contract issue out of court.

Why and When You Should Involve a Contract Dispute Attorney?

Many people are under the mistaken impression that all attorneys know how to do is to fight court battles. However, skilled contract attorneys understand that for most clients, court is an option of last resort.

When you company is in the early stages of a contract dispute it makes sense to bring in an attorney as soon as possible. Contract attorneys that are also skilled litigators can actually help you avoid court and resolve your disputes quickly and efficiently.

Because a contract attorney understands how a court will likely interpret a particular contract, or clause of a contract, they can advise you on the best course of action to help the other side come to the same conclusion.

The ultimate job of an attorney in a contract dispute is to use their understanding of the law litigation experience, and abilities to make persuasive arguments to convince the other side of the dispute that resolving the matter quickly and on your terms is in their best interest.

As soon as you suspect that you and the other side do not view the terms of the contract the same way, you should involve a contract attorney. The earlier in the process you involve an attorney, the more options are available for resolving the dispute.

Having a contract attorney advise you early on helps put you in the best position to protect your interests.

Common Causes of Contract Disputes

Contract disputes often have more than a single cause. There are several common reasons parties to a contract may get into a dispute. Disagreements over business contracts often occur due to:

Vague Contract Terms: When a contract is not drafted properly it can cause confusion. Two sides may read the same passage in two completely different ways. Vague terms can easily lead to the collapse of the entire agreement if steps are not taken to quickly reconcile the two different interpretations.

Changing Economic Circumstances: Sometimes broad changes in the economic picture can make the contract more onerous to one side. These economic conditions may lead to a calculation that it is better to breach the contract than to comply with the deal. These types of disputes can often be resolved by the renegotiation of some parts of the deal in a way that benefits both sides.

Changes in Business Viability: If one party to the contract suddenly has a cash flow crisis or some other event that puts their business in danger of failing, they may have trouble honoring their commitments. However, it is often in the interest of both parties to find a way to resolve the dispute and make the underlying agreement work.

Misunderstanding of the Underlying Agreement: When the contract between two parties is an oral contract, or an informal written agreement, it is easy for each side to have a different view of the underlying deal. This is more serious that just a few vague clauses. In this situation the two sides don’t even agree about what the basis of the contract is.

Belief by One Side That They Can Negotiate a Better Deal: Sometimes when there is a big disparity in bargaining power between two sides to a contract, the more powerful side will try and press their advantage by demanding changes to the contract that benefit them because they believe the other side is too weak to resist the changes. A firm trying to fight this type of contract dispute needs a strong contract attorney in their corner to help them find a way to protect their rights and interests without losing a valuable business relationship.

Have a Clear Understanding of Your Options

When faced with a contract dispute, you need to be clear about what your options are. A contract attorney can help you evaluate your options and develop a strategy for moving forward. Because each dispute is unique, there is not one set of tactics that will be effective in every instance.

In the beginning of most contract disputes you have these options:

  • Ignore a breach of the agreement form the other side
  • Concede to the demands of the other side
  • Negotiate a change to the contract to resolve the dispute
  • Use mediation to resolve the dispute
  • Agree to use arbitration to resolve the dispute
  • Enter into formal litigation

While there are reasons and circumstances where ignoring a clear breach of a contract by the other side may be in your best interests, most of the time doing nothing is not a good business or legal strategy. Likewise, conceding to the demands of the other side without getting anything any return is typically a poor choice. However, before making any strategic decisions about a contract dispute you should consult with an experienced contract attorney.

Most of the time the first step will be opening negotiations with the other side to resolve the dispute. No matter what methods you use to resolve a contract dispute, your main goal will be to convince the other side that it is in their best interest to agree to the your key demands.

Negotiation, mediation, and arbitration are only effective because of the shadow that litigation casts over the process. The more clearly both sides understand the costs and likely outcome of taking a contact dispute to court, the easier it will be to resolve a contract dispute without having to file a lawsuit.

Commercial contract disputes often arise out of the financial and economic circumstances of the parties, but they are often not resolved because of irrational pride or optimism on the part of corporate management. The key to resolving a dispute to often not just understanding the legal consequences of a course of action, but also understanding the psychology of the other side.

How to Negotiate a Change to the Contract

The first step in negotiating a change to a contract to resolve a dispute is clearly defining your goals. Before you can craft a negotiation strategy you need to know what you need to achieve.

A contract attorney will be instrumental in helping you make sure your goals are realistic and will actually resolve the underlying dispute.

Once you understand your goals, you will need to notify the other side that you want to negotiate a change to the contract. Negotiation can be very effective when the two sides have different views of some vague portions of the contract.

The two sides can agree to amend to the contract to remove the vague language and replace it with something clearer. Negotiation can also be effective when the other side is unable to perform their duties under the contract, but it is in your interest to save the deal rather than litigate for damages.

Most businesses already have a keen understanding of what it take to negotiate a good deal. Often, it requires crafting a solution where both sides can feel like they won something.

Using Mediation to Resolve Contract Disputes

Sometimes two sides are not able to come to an agreement on their own. In cases where both sides want to resolve the dispute, but negotiations have broken down, mediation may be a good option.

The two sides have several options when it comes to mediation. They can mutually hire a private mediator to help them. The best mediators in these instances are people without a financial interest in either firm who are familiar both with the industry and with contract law. Retired judges and attorneys that specialize in mediation are often the best choice to act as a mediator.

If the two sides cannot even agree on a mediator, they may end up in litigation and having a judge appoint a mediator to help the two sides resolve their differences. The two sides do not have to come to an agreement in mediation. Often, more than one round of mediation are needed to resolve a particularly thorny contract dispute.

The advantages of using mediation before filing a lawsuit are that the matter remains private because there is no public record of the dispute, mediation is less expensive than litigation, and mediation allows the parties to craft creative solutions that may not be available from an arbitrator or judge.

If mediation does not work, the two sides will still have other options to fall back on, including litigation.

Using Arbitration to Resolve Contract Disputes

Arbitration is a process that looks similar to the formal court system, but is much faster and less expensive for companies. Sometimes contracts specifically require that the two sides use arbitration to resolve contract disputes.

In arbitration a neutral third-party acts as the decision maker. This person is called an arbitrator. Often, arbitration is done remotely. The arbitrator will review submissions from the parties and render a decision. If needed, the parties and their attorneys can appear via phone conference to present oral testimony or arguments.

The rules of evidence are often looser in arbitration and arbitrators work on a fast timeline than judges—sometimes resolving a case in weeks or months instead of years. Unlike judges, the parties pay for arbitrators. Depending on the agreement of the parties, either both sides pay half of the arbitration fee, the loser pays the fee, or some other arrangement. There are two types of arbitration: non-binding arbitration and binding arbitration

In non-binding arbitration, either side can reject the decision of the arbitrator and proceed to court. There are not many instances when two parties will agree to non-binding arbitration because it does not provide the type of finality that most businesses want.

In binding arbitration both sides agree to give-up their rights to file a lawsuit over the contract dispute. They both agree to accept and abide by the decision of the arbitrator. Binding arbitration creates a separate contract between the parties regarding the terms and aftermath of the arbitration. Usually the arbitration agreement has specific penalties for failure to follow the arbitration decision.

If one side were to fail to follow the decision of the arbitrator in binding the arbitration, the other side could take the non-complying side to court to enforce the arbitration agreement, but not to re-litigate the underlying contract dispute.

Using Litigation to Resolve Contract Disputes

If other alternative forms of dispute resolution fail, the parties may end up having to file a lawsuit. However, just because a lawsuit is filed and the litigation process is started does not mean the case will end up going all the way to trial.

The vast majority of cases are resolved before ever going to trial. However, litigation is expensive and lengthy. It does give the two sides additional tools to resolve their disputes. Sometimes discovery process, which requires the two sides to turn over certain documents and to undergo depositions, can convince the two sides to negotiate a settlement. The court may also strongly suggest, or even order, that the two sides try mediation before going to trial.

However, if the two sides cannot resolve their dispute, litigation will provide finality in the form of a verdict after a trial.

Downtown Orlando Office

790 N. Orange Ave
Orlando, FL 32801
Phone: (407) 259-2426
Toll Free: (866) 801-2636
Fax: (407) 391-3626

Metrowest Orlando Office

7065 Westpointe Blvd., Ste 311
Orlando, FL 32825
Email: contact@walshbanks.com

About

Walsh Banks Law is a boutique law firm located in Orlando, Florida. We specialize in business law, real estate law and commercial litigation.