Business Disputes

Many small and medium businesses in areas including Woodbridge, Ipswich, London and Essex are reluctant to call in expert commercial lawyers. This applies even when contracts have been breached and ignored, or customers are persistently refusing to pay.

Business owners can be understandably nervous about consulting a legal representative because of fears and misunderstanding about what is involved, as well as wanting to keep down costs. They may also worry about having to go to court or getting involved in protracted legal proceedings.

Unfortunately, however, some suppliers and partners exploit this reluctance to contemplate legal action. This can result in significant cash flow problems or failure to have contracts honoured. Here we show how involving the right expertise at the right time can be a cost-effective approach.

Contract Disputes: Barrister Marcus Croskell regularly advises on the enforceability of a contract, whether made in writing or orally. This involves clarifying the terms of the agreement, including any implied terms. For instance, it is an implied term of every contract for the supply of goods and services, such as installing or repairing a washing machine, that the work will be carried out with the requisite care and skill.

Disputes often involve dissatisfaction by a party over the quality of the services or goods provided. In these circumstances, small and medium-sized businesses can struggle with litigation and find it difficult planning for a dispute in the small claims court. Often the other side will bring a claim likely to damage their reputation. As an expert business lawyer, Marcus can assist in preparing for trial, with aspects ranging from witness statements to pleadings, as well as attending on the day.

Commercial Landlord and Tenant Disagreements: Disputes of this type often include issues of disrepair to the premises, problems with neighbours and rent arrears. Marcus often advises on landlord disputes including the process needed to seek possession of the property. This can include acting for housing associations where a tenant is involved in anti-social behaviour and action is needed before harm is caused to other tenants in the locality.

Disputes Regarding the Costs of Litigation: Legal costs are complex, and even if you act for yourself, if you lose a case then you may face an enormous bill. Given the complex rules on costs, it is open for a paying party to challenge the recoverability, potentially saving thousands of pounds. Marcus has represented clients in local courts before the designated costs judges, as well as high-value claims before the Masters of the High Court in the Senior Courts Costs Office in London.

Adverse Possession Claims: Property boundary disputes are a menace to property owners, including businesses. They need to be dealt with firmly, and if necessary contested in the Property Chamber before a tribunal judge or in the County Court. A series of important House of Lords and Court of Appeal judgments will need to be considered and applied in each case. Marcus has advised businesses, individuals and local authorities in this type of dispute and represented clients across the country.

Consumer Credit Disputes: If you buy a product as a consumer, there are legal protections in place, including the Sale of Goods Act (as amended), providing a regime for dispute resolution. The Consumer Credit Act also gives protection to those who have sought credit. Marcus can advise you on disputes in this area and hopefully find a solution to your particular problem prior to resorting to litigation.

Alternative Dispute Resolution: Barristers in Woodbridge, Essex and across the country are not only called to resolve disputes in court, but also to keep them out of the courtroom. Barristers can actively participate in round table meetings and mediation sessions, assisting parties reach solutions where possible.

While parties cannot always agree, courts are now increasingly putting a heavy onus on them to become engaged in mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. In one case, Marcus recently acted for a company in Kent specialising in repairing lifts, which was in a dispute over non-payment of invoices by a lift owning company. He advised the managing director during a back and forth negotiation leading to a successful settlement.

Health and Safety: The obligations on businesses to comply with health and safety are a heavy burden that should not be taken lightly. Businesses can be subject to heavy fines and costs if they fail to take proper precautions and actions that protect members of staff and the public. Marcus has successfully acted for various companies, including a series of restaurants, where accidents have taken place and the local authority has brought prosecutions. These are often reported in the local press, which can be bad for a business's reputation.

Environmental Law including Abatement Notices: The local authority has wide- ranging roles in policing businesses. Environmental health officers have powers to seek abatement notices where there is an interference with the public’s right to clean clear air by noxious odours or sounds. Marcus is acting for a local authority in Norfolk in 2015, in a case seeking to force a fast food restaurant to provide proper filtration and outlets for smoke and odour.

If you are seeking lawyers in Woodbridge, Ipswich, Cambridgeshire or London to help with any of these types of business dispute or others, contact Marcus Croskell for specialist small business legal advice.

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