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I posted the following article almost one year ago. Why am I posting it again? Because it remains a problematic, relevant issue-how can we better, cost effectively litigate small dollar business disputes-and based on my experience I am in the process of updating the article and adding reasonable rules and procedures to which the parties could stipulate and which would allow the parties to have their day in court without necessarily breaking the budget. More to follow shortly. . . .
Anyone who has been involved in a business dispute that is relatively small in dollar amount knows that it is challenging to litigate that type of dispute at least in part due to the time that it takes to reach resolution and the attorneys' fees and costs that can be incurred. The following discussion gives you some ideas about how a relatively small dispute can be effectively litigated to resolution by settlement or adjudication (trial or arbitration) whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant party. For our purpose the term "effectively litigate" means a prompt (as reasonably possible), correct, cost effective resolution. What is a dispute that is "small dollar" in amount? Well . . . there is no formal or legal definition, and of course different people will have different criteria, but for the purpose of this paper I have in mind disputes that are between $1 and $100,000 in amount, not including attorneys' fees.
For the purpose of this paper, I assume that the dispute is already in progress and that the contract or agreement terms and provisions were previously established-in other words we are not at the contract or agreement drafting stage although the underlying contract or agreement terms could be in dispute. A disagreement over the underlying terms and provisions should be taken as a wakeup call to improve the transaction agreement processes for future transactions. Regardless of already existing contract or agreement terms and provisions, the parties should nevertheless consider and work toward alternative processes or parameters that will promote a prompt, correct resolution by settlement or adjudication.
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