Dispute resolution in business partnerships

One of the most nettlesome challenges business partners face when entering into a new venture is selecting an appropriate dispute resolution mechanism.

The topic is inherently difficult for many entrepreneurs and executives because it requires them to address the possibility of failure at the outset of a relationship they necessarily believe will succeed. As a result, many joint venture associates and business partners simply gloss over the issue, refusing even to address it.

If their clients are willing to listen, many lawyers offer the standard list of dispute resolution mechanisms: arbitration, mediation and buy/sell arrangements, also referred to as Russian roulette or Texas shootout provisions. Continue reading Dispute resolution in business partnerships

Mediation in civil and commercial matters: European Parliament endorses new rules

Mediation in civil and commercial matters European Parliament endorses new rules

A Directive on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters was adopted today 23 April 2008. The purpose of the Directive is to facilitate access to cross-border dispute resolution and to promote the amicable settlement of disputes by encouraging the use of mediation and by ensuring a sound relationship between mediation and judicial proceedings. The Directive is one of the follow-up actions to the Green Paper on alternative dispute resolution presented by the Commission in 2002, the other being the European Code of Conduct for Mediators established by a group of stakeholders with the assistance of the Commission and launched in July 2004.

Welcoming the adoption of this Directive, Vice-President Jacques Barrot said: “This Directive fulfils the political objective established in October 1999 by the European Council of Tampere, which – in the context of encouraging better access to justice in Europe – called for the creation of alternative, extrajudicial procedures for dispute resolution in the Member States. Mediation can provide cost-effective and quick extrajudicial resolution of disputes in civil and commercial matters through processes tailored to the needs of the parties. Agreements resulting from mediation are more likely to be complied with voluntarily and help preserve an amicable and sustainable relationship between the parties.

The Commission proposed the Directive in October 2004 (IP/04/1288). The Directive facilitates recourse to mediation by strengthening the legal guarantees accompanying it, thus giving real added value to citizens and businesses in the European Union. The key components of the Directive are as follows:

The Directive obliges Member States to encourage the training of mediators and the development of, and adherence to, voluntary codes of conduct and other effective quality control mechanisms concerning the provision of mediation services.

The Directive gives every Judge in the Community, at any stage of the proceedings, the right to suggest that the parties attend an information meeting on mediation and, if the Judge deems it appropriate, to invite the parties to have recourse to mediation.

The Directive enables parties to give an agreement concluded following mediation a status similar to that of a Court judgment by rendering it enforceable. This can be achieved, for example, by way of judicial approval or notarial certification, thereby allowing such agreements to be enforceable in the Member States under existing Community rules. Continue reading Mediation in civil and commercial matters: European Parliament endorses new rules

Colin Rule PayPal’s Director of ODR interviewed by Practical eCommerce

Colin Rule PayPal’s Director of ODR interviewed by Practical eCommerce

¿How, exactly, PayPal resolves disputes between ecommerce merchants and their customers? Colin Rule, PayPals Director of Online Dispute Resolution was intervied by Practical eCommerce magazine:

Practical eCommerce (PeC): If an ecommerce customer pays for a legitimate product using PayPal and then decides he doesn’t like it and complains to PayPal, what will PayPal do?

Colin Rule: In cases where the buyer is simply disappointed in the item, we would encourage the buyer to work directly with the seller. PayPal does offer buyer protection, but this protection covers buyers for items that they didn’t receive and for items that are significantly not as described. It does not cover cases where the buyer is merely disappointed with the item or where the item did not meet the buyer’s expectations.

Practical eCommerce (PeC): What are a merchant’s options if a customer asks PayPal to hold payment?

Colin Rule: If a merchant does get a chargeback, a couple pieces of information can be extremely helpful to dispute it. Proof of delivery, such as online tracking offered by both USPS and UPS, can be critical evidence in reversing the chargeback. A copy of the buyer’s signature confirming receipt can also be extremely effective. Finally, if a merchant did refund the buyer at any point in time, proof of the refund (and/or the shipment of a replacement item) is important.

Practical eCommerce (PeC): What other options are available to merchants to address disputes?

Colin Rule: Again, we always encourage buyers and sellers to first try to work through disputes together. To help with that, we’ve launched the dispute resolution center – a step-by-step system designed to facilitate communication between the buyer and the seller in order to get resolution of the issue. Since launching PayPal Dispute Resolution, buyer claims against sellers decreased by 50 percent, and seller losses on PayPal due to chargebacks decreased 20 percent.

If the dialogue with the seller fails to produce a satisfactory result, the buyer can then escalate the dispute into a claim, where our claims specialists gather information from both parties, examine the case and work with both parties to try to fairly and efficiently resolve the claim. In this process, PayPal will ask sellers for documentation that helps us determine that they shipped the item to the buyer and that the item was as described. Continue reading Colin Rule PayPal’s Director of ODR interviewed by Practical eCommerce

International Dispute Resolution in United Kingdom UK

International Dispute Resolution in United Kingdom UK

World of Arbitration In a civilised society, citizens look to the courts to settle their disputes. The courts put judges at the disposal of the parties, the courts determine the substantive and procedural law which is to be applied and the courts enforce their own orders through court officers, when necessary. It is a one-stop shop.

For those engaged in alternative dispute resolution – ADR, the courts are available not merely to enforce decisions and awards but also to supervise and control the chosen ADR procedures, should matters go awry.

Where disputes arise in the international arena, the picture is a little different because national courts are rarely acceptable to both sides. Disputes between states or between an individual and a foreign state or between an individual and an international organisation may be regarded as being in a special category, where the aggrieved party may have recourse to treaty arbitration. Examples are arbitration before the PCA1 and arbitration under the auspices of ICSID2. Beyond that special category, the parties must make express provision for dispute resolution in their agreement, failing which the aggrieved party will be left to seek his remedy from the domestic courts of one country or another, depending upon which will assume jurisdiction.

The result is a contrast. Whereas national courts often represent a convenient and acceptable means of dispute resolution for parties to a dispute which has no international element, there is no international equivalent. In consequence, most international disputes fall to be resolved through a process or by a tribunal which is essentially consensual in origin.

This paper is concerned with the resolution of disputes arising under international construction contracts. The purpose is to survey the available alternatives and to identify some of the considerations to be borne in mind by those concerned. In this last context, the emphasis is on two key considerations, being enforcement and applicable law. Continue reading International Dispute Resolution in United Kingdom UK

New Procedures in the Institute of Arbitration

The Standard Dispute Rules (hereinafter referred to as ‘the rules’) are used, both nationally and internationally, to find a solution to a dispute or to obtain a verdict, quickly, simply and more cheaply, either through reconciliation or arbitration.

I. Conciliation
Either party may demand conciliation. The demand for conciliation is made by letter, fax or Internet. Within 10 workdays, and once the administrative costs have been covered, the other party (parties) is (are) advised of this demand for conciliation. The applicant is notified of any response or reaction by the other party. If the case reveals a serious difficulty the parties may, in that event, call for an expert or a mediator to be appointed, so as to avoid litigation. After one month or when the conciliation fails, either party may initiate arbitration proceedings.

II. Expertise and Mediation
All the parties may demand, together, in writing, for an expert or mediator. Within 15 workdays, and once the administrative costs have been covered, an expert or a mediator will be appointed. Each party bears the costs thereof for equal parts. Within 30 days after the appointment, the expert or mediator shall meet the parties and, within 3 months, he shall make a compromise or give a report with a clear opinion.

III. Arbitration
Before initiating arbitration in the first instance parties are obliged to make an attempt at conciliation every time the law imposes it.

Art. 1: General
Arbitration has, since 1958, been an internationally recognized procedure (convention of New York). Unless otherwise agreed between the parties, only the laws of the country of the clerk’s office of the Court shall apply. The law applies to all that is not expressly stipulated in these rules.

Art. 2: Jurisdiction
Parties who had not foreseen an arbitration clause, may, after a dispute has arisen, conclude a contract thereto. An arbitration agreement must be incorporated in a document signed by both parties or in other legally binding documents. Disputes which cannot be legally submitted for arbitration shall be inadmissible. If one party refuses to take part in the proceedings or does not present its arguments within the stipulated time limit, the dispute will be heard anyway and an award shall be pronounced. Continue reading New Procedures in the Institute of Arbitration