An inevitable consequence of the coronavirus pandemic is the torrent of disputes arising from the various disruptions caused by the lockdown.  Businesses seek to recoup their losses from their insurers, contractual counterparts and brokers; as well as individuals who attempt to receive recompense for unfulfilled obligations.  The exceptional circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in the frequently attempted defence of "unprecedented circumstances negate contractual obligations."

The current challenging situation makes it all the more imperative to resolve disputes as quickly as possible whilst keeping the costs to the absolute minimum.  The first and most obvious option is for both the parties in the financial dispute to discuss the issues between themselves, this may be easier said than done at the present time, particularly if the matter is compounded by cross-border concerns.  

The next step is to establish your legal options especially when the business interests are complex, where there is a large sum of money involved or, if the nature of the loss affects both parties and the other party is not prepared to share the loss.  A lawyer can advise on all the available legal options to ensure that you are fully informed of all possibilities and guide as to the best way forward in the circumstances.

A negotiated solution is often considered as the best starting point.  Nick McEwen, an associate in Giambrone's corporate and commercial team says "seeking legal advice does not automatically mean that the dispute is escalated and you will be embroiled in an expensive legal case. An experienced lawyer should be focussed on resolving and diffusing a dispute as well as preserving the commercial relationship for the benefit of both parties."  A financial dispute over outstanding payment is highly likely to reach the stage where there is acrimony on one or both sides and a lawyer can act as a buffer and negotiate between the parties to alleviate the situation and steer the parties towards a solution.  Nick McEwen  further commented, "Early intervention utilising collaborative methods of dispute resolution like mediation, conciliation and negotiation can, in some cases, achieve a quicker, and more economically satisfactory outcome than a more formal action through the courts."  Another benefit of such a strategy is that the causes of the dispute do not get aired in the public domain of a courtroom.

However, if it becomes apparent that it is impossible to resolve the issue without the full weight of the court action then the risk, the length of time required and costs of a legal action must be undertaken.  Giambrone's lawyers are fully aware that taking a matter to court is a last resort and a route that is not untaken lightly largely due to the significant expense.  In particularly sound matters the possibility of litigation funding can be considered.  Litigation funding, whereby a third party extends the money for the litigation in exchange for a percentage of the resulting success, can be a valuable tool enabling a business to pursue a claim without tying up their working capital; such funding is nearly always augmented by after the event (ATE) insurance which pays off the funds advanced by the litigation funders in the event of you losing the claim.

Giambrone's corporate and commercial team are highly experienced at managing the entire situation and guiding, even the most complex matter to a successful conclusion.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.