You’ve got into a commercial dispute. May be with a supplier, client or business partner.
You’re angry and want “justice”. Your first though is “let’s engage a lawyer” and threaten to take them to court.
Or you’re on the receiving end.

Either way, before things escalate, stop and reconsider. The true cost of litigation may shock you!

These figures are based on litigation in the District Court which as a jurisdiction up to $750,000.
• Filing a formal statement of claim in court – one month. Legal costs of $5,000 to $15,000.
• Waiting for the other party to file a Defence – 2-3 months. Legal costs of $7,000 to $20,000.
• Document discovery and disclosure completed – 5-7 months. Legal costs of about $15,000 to $30,000.
• Completion of each party’s evidence – 7-12 months. Legal costs $30,000 – $50,000.
• Conclusion of a trial – 10-12 months. Legal costs $60,000 – $120,000.
• Receipt of a formal judgement from the Court – 12- 24 months.

Best case estimate $117,000. Worst case could set you back $235,000.

Even if you win it doesn’t stop there.

The losing party can lodge an appeal within 28 days of the trial decision. That can take between 6-12 months to finalise, adding a further $10,000 to $20,000 to your legal costs.
Getting a judgement in your favour is one thing. Actually getting the money out of the other party is quite another!
You may encounter problems in enforcing your judgement against a defendant who either doesn’t want to pay or lacks the financial means to pay. This could take a further 3 – 6 months of time and legal cost to you.

Finally the loser, who is ordered to pay your legal costs, may challenge the quantum of your costs and force you to take it to formal costs assessment. This could take a further 6-12 months to finalise.

Bottom line, if you choose to litigate, the whole process could consume 1-2 years of your valuable time and be a significant drain on your cash flow.
Not a choice to be made lightly.

Is there a viable better alternative? Not always, but very often there is.

Engage an Alternative Dispute Resolution expert who could help you find a mutually satisfactory outcome at a fraction of the time and cost.

This is an indication of how much you could save:
• Triaging the dispute to create an effective management blueprint – 1 week. Cost $660;
• Pre-Mediation steps to elicit each party’s prospective, identify core issues, manage communication to deescalate and contain the dispute while gaining cooperation to brainstorm the issues and look for creative workable solutions and outcomes – 2-3 weeks. Cost $1,500 per party
• Final Mediation – half day $1,500; full day $3,300 shared equally.
Bottom line – 3-4 weeks at total cost of $5,000 or less shared between the parties.
Big difference wouldn’t you say? And there’s a pretty good chance your relationship stays intact.
Download Chris Whitelaw’s “7 Proven Strategies to Resolve Your Commercial Dispute WITHOUT Litigation”. This in-depth report details 7 strategies that will help you dramatically deescalate disputes and resolve them quickly at minimal cost and relationship damage.

Renae Thompson