If you have received a legal letter of demand, or find yourself involved in a legal dispute, it is very easy to get overwhelmed and let fight, flight or freeze instincts take over. Rather than succumbing to these instincts, there are a few simple steps that you can take, to start to take control over your circumstances and move forward to resolve the dispute.
The steps described below are necessary, even when you end up engaging a lawyer to help you with your case:
Proverbs 18:17 says, “There are two sides to every story. The first one to speak sounds true until you hear the other side and they set the record straight”.
The first step is to put your side of the story together.
- Gather any emails, contracts, documents, brochures, text messages you may have about the matter, and put them in chronological order;
- Prepare a chronology of all the important events to get a good grasp of the factual background;
- Make a list of all the people who were involved in the matter, who could eventually be witnesses for the case.
Identifying the allegations made against you, or if you were an innocent party, identifying your grievance:
- If you are accused of having done something wrong, consider whether the allegations made against are clear. If it is not clear, ask the other person to state in writing (an email will do), what they are actually accusing you of. This is important, because until the other person can define what was wrong, it will be very difficult for you to reflect and consider whether they were right or wrong.
- If you are the victim of someone else’s actions, you should try and articulate as best you can, what you think your opponent has done, or not done, that has caused you harm. You should also try and work out what is the harm you have suffered, for instance, did you make a financial loss? Did you miss out on an opportunity?
Check our heart posture:
- Start with a heart posture that is ready to engage in early negotiation with the other side to try and resolve the dispute. There should be an aim to bring understanding to the opposite party, and restore fractured relationships. In Western Australia, more than 80% of disputes that go to Court settle and do not proceed to trial. The statistics is even more impressive with the Supreme Court of WA, where only 2% of civil matters go to trial.
- Even if you feel you are 100% in the right, keep communication factual and civil. Avoid using inflammatory, aggressive language. Proverbs 15:1 says, “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”.