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Specialist Fields

Dispute Resolution

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We assist businesses in all areas of Dispute Resolution

Dispute resolution can take a number of forms. In a legal setting, it usually entails litigation, which involves dispute resolution through the courts. Litigation work is limited to attorneys practicing as such at law firms. Caveat is not a traditional law firm and does not offer a litigation service.

Our experienced and specialised litigation lawyers are, however, available to advise individuals and businesses on litigation avoidance strategies, alternative dispute resolution options, available remedies and pre-litigation steps. They are also available to assist law firms with overflow litigation support work such as discovery and trial preparation.

Clients don’t need lawyers, they need trusted advisors who are experts in the law.

- Lucien Lewin, Caveat Panel Member

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Dispute Resolution

Dispute resolution can take place through a number of forums. Where a contractual or commercial dispute arises, it will typically be resolved either by litigation in a court or by way of arbitration.

The referral of a dispute to mediation may be a step which the parties are required to take before the matter may be referred to arbitration, however, but the findings of a mediator are not usually binding.

Whether or not a dispute should be referred to arbitration or dealt with by the courts will depend on what has been agreed in this respect between the parties. To this end, a dispute may only be referred to arbitration where the parties have expressly agreed to do so, and care therefore needs to be taken to ensure that a dispute is instituted in the correct forum.
Typically, arbitration proceedings are fairly similar to court proceedings save that they may be less formal, the parties may have a say in respect of the appointment of the arbitrator and the timing of the hearing, and they usually take less time to finalise.

That said, resolving a dispute by way of arbitration can be more expensive because the parties are required to carry the costs of the arbitrator, the arbitration venue, the recording of proceedings, etc., which is not the case with litigation before a court.

Caveat’s dispute resolution team is available to advise on the appropriate dispute resolution clauses for commercial contracts, as well as – when a dispute arises – the forum to which it should be referred.

Resolving disputes does not always entail litigation. It is the ability to analyse the issues at hand and provide sound legal advice based on a formulated resolution strategy which, after thorough investigation and analysis, responds to the issue at hand while ensuring the client’s expectations are matched.

- Yonela Ndila, Caveat Panel Member

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Frequently asked questions on Dispute Resolution

Litigation should always be a last resort, particularly given the high costs of legal fees and the inherent risks associated with litigation. When the monetary value of the issue litigated on is relatively a low amount, there is even more reason not to litigate. This is why Caveat’s litigation support service is so important, as our clients are assisted as far as possible to avoid litigation, and where litigation is unavoidable, to strengthen their position to mitigate the risks associated with the litigation.

This is a very difficult question to answer, as there are a number of variables which have an impact on the duration of litigious matters. On average, it could take anything from a year to two years for a trial (where the evidence is led before the presiding officer) to commence from the date of summons being issued and served on a defendant. Once the trial has been completed, the presiding officer could take three to six months to deliver judgment (this could be more or less, depending on the particular judicial officer). Appeals and reviews could also take place which would lengthen the process even more. These proceedings are known as action proceedings. The time period would be somewhat shorter in the context of application proceedings. The main difference between action and application proceedings is that the former is commenced by way of summons and evidence is presented orally, while the latter is commenced by way of notice of motion, and evidence is presented by way of affidavits.

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