Commercial contracts can be a critical component of a successful business, bringing many mutual rewards, benefits and opportunities to the parties involved. However, they also carry a number of risks that can be very damaging, especially where contractual disputes arise.
If you are involved in a contract dispute that turns contentious, it can become complicated to resolve. Time-consuming and technically complex, they can be extremely draining, both mentally and financially, incurring significant legal costs to reach a resolution.
At Wolferstans, our Commercial Dispute Resolution team can effectively handle even the most complicated contract disputes, offering advice and expertise to mitigate risk, time and expense, so that you can resolve matters as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.
Wherever practical, we will seek an amicable out of court resolution, working with you to achieve the best outcome whilst minimising the time, money and stress involved. Wherever commercial litigation is needed, we are ready to provide the strongest defence to protect your rights and interests in court.
Our expertise with contract dispute resolution
Our contract disputes solicitors can help with matters including:
- Supply agreements
- Agency agreements
- Distribution agreements
- Franchise agreements
- Warranty and indemnity claims
- Consultancy agreements
Flexible funding to suit your circumstances
Our contract dispute resolution solicitors are able to offer various funding options to suit your matter, including fixed fees, capped fees and insurance backed funding arrangements.
Types of Contract disputes
Disputes can arise over the sale of goods or supply of services where the goods or services are of poor quality, are defective, supply is interrupted or where the original agreement needs to be changed. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, goods and services must match the description, be fit for purpose, not be broken, faulty, damaged or spoiled.
Agency agreement disputes often happen when the relationship breaks down between a principal and their agent over the buying or selling of goods or services or negotiating contracts. Agents have rights and protections under The Commercial Agents Regulations 1993 concerning commissions, compensation, restraint of trade and minimum termination notices – especially where a principal terminates the agency agreement.
Distribution disputes are another common type of contractual dispute that can arise between a company and a distributor – who buys goods from the company then sells them on in their own name. Disagreements often arise out of issues such as breaches in exclusivity clauses, breaches of confidentiality, setting up as a competitor, selling outside of agreed geographical areas or wrongful termination of agreements.
Franchisors and franchisees can often find themselves disagreeing after the Franchise Agreement has been made. They may have differing future ambitions, which are no longer reflected in the existing agreement. Common disputes arise from issues such as breaching or exiting the franchise agreement, misrepresentation, competition, confidentiality or intellectual property breaches and reputational damage to the franchisor’s brand.
Warranty and indemnity claims
If you are the buyer of a business, and you have reason to believe the warranties given by the seller about the business were untrue on the date of the sale purchase agreement (SPA), you may be able to make a claim for damages as a result of this breach of warranty.
When entering into a sale purchase agreement (SPA) for a company, the seller gives an indemnity as a promise to reimburse the buyer for any losses incurred as a result of such things that were not known or quantifiable at the date of the transaction, e.g. unknown tax liabilities or penalties. The buyer can claim for any costs which have materialised out of the issues covered by the indemnity.
As with many other legal agreements, a consultancy agreement dispute can arise over issues relating to the terms of engagement, duties and obligations, fees, confidentiality and intellectual property matters, data protection and termination clauses.
How we can help with contract dispute resolution
Interpreting commercial contracts
Commercial contracts are agreements between two or more parties that governs a trading relationship. Our contract disputes solicitors can help you review and interpret all types of commercial contracts to resolve any issues that you might be having, including with the running of the contract over issues such as performance, pricing or terminating the contract.
Pre-action contract dispute resolution
Pre-action steps include reviewing your contract to determine if a breach has occurred. Our contract disputes solicitors can help you determine the clause under which the contract has been breached and explain your rights and obligations. Your contract will outline the next steps, which might require you to follow the methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), including negotiation, mediation or early neutral evaluation.
Commercial mediation for contract disputes
There are various methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to effectively manage and resolve commercial contract disputes, including private negotiation and mediation.
ADR can help you achieve a quick and amicable resolution to a contract dispute which is much more cost-effective than court proceedings. It may also help you maintain a more positive business relationship that could be important for the success and growth of your business in the future.
Taking a commercial contract dispute to court
Where attempts at mediation fail, it may become necessary to take a contract dispute to court in order to resolve the matter. When this is required, our contract disputes solicitors will work alongside you to prepare your case, ensuring you have the best possible representation and chance of success for any hearings that will take place.
Flexible funding for contract disputes
Fixed fee contract dispute resolution
We can offer fixed fees for certain matters, giving you clarity and certainty over the exact costs involved. Letters before action, for example, can be prepared on a fixed fee basis.
Private payment/pay as you go
If you will be needing ongoing legal support, we will keep you advised and updated with regular interim accounts for the work carried out, enabling you to plan and budget for your costs.
Commercial contract dispute resolution FAQs
By signing a contract, both parties are agreeing to the terms and conditions of the agreement. A breach of contract usually occurs when a party to the agreement fails to meet a contractual obligation entirely or fails to do it in a timely manner. Breaches can be material, and non-material and well drafted contracts will determine how breaches are to be addressed.
The implications of a breach will usually be clear from a well drafted contract and will lead to some form of remedy by the party that has breached the contract. It will usually allow for the party to rectify the situation to place the other party back into the position they would have been in – had the contract being properly fulfilled. There can be a variety of remedies for the breach of contract and will depend upon whether it is material, non-material and addressable or not. A breach of contract could lead to a termination of the contract.
Simple claims for contract claims need to be settled or commenced at court within six years of the breach.
Disputes are best resolved using pre-action steps and ADR methods to avoid court proceedings wherever possible. This is a way of resolving matters quickly and cost-effectively whilst also giving you the opportunity to maintain positive business relationships going forward – which may be critical to the continued success of your business.
Book a consultation with our contract dispute solicitors in Plymouth
Our specialist litigation solicitors can help you resolve your contract dispute. Call us on 01752 643950 to book a consultation about your claim.