First things, first – what is a business dispute?
A business dispute can be a disagreement between two businesses over the terms and/or performance of an agreement, which could have been made either in writing or verbally. As set out in the remainder of this blog, business disputes are not always contractual.

What can cause a business dispute?
There are many causes as to why you may have a business dispute. A few common examples are:

  1. Contract disputes
  2. Professional negligence
  3. IP infringement

Contract disputes
Contracts are what hold businesses and professional relationships together. Sometimes disputes arise out of the contract because its terms are incomplete or just plain unclear. In other instances, a party may not live up to their end of the deal, for example failing to meet a deadline. Furthermore, if a party to a contract fails to make payments as required, this is normally a breach of contract. Any contract should clearly stipulate what is expected of each party, failure to adhere to these terms can render a party in breach of contract.

To protect yourself, consider the following:

  1. Record every agreement in writing.
  2. Avoid miscommunication – disputes often arise because people don’t know what they should be doing.
  3. Include dispute resolution clauses, as these will map out what happens in the event of a dispute.

By ensuring parties to an agreement are on the same page, major issues and many disputes can be avoided.

Professional negligence
The definition of professional negligence is the failure of a professional to perform to the standard required to satisfy their duty of care to a third party.

When you use a professional service, the professional is expected to perform to the standard expected of someone in their sector / field.

To bring a claim in professional negligence, the following will need to be taken into account:

  1. Duty of care: the professional must owe the third party looking to bring a claim a duty of care, this requirement will normally be satisfied where the professional has provided a business or person with a service directly.
  2. Breach of duty: the professional fell below the standard of care imposed by the law. Professionals are often judged against the standard of a reasonable person acting in their sector / field.
  3. Causation: it must be established that the professional’s breach of duty was a substantial factor in causing the loss or harm suffered.
  4. Loss suffered: you have suffered loss as a result of the professional’s negligent actions.

There are many examples of professional negligence. Including:

  • An accountant giving poor financial advice which causes you to suffer a loss.
  • A surveyor failing to report significant defects in a property you are intending to buy.
  • An architect drawing up plans for an extension which does not comply with planning permission resulting in you having to rebuild their extension.

Professional negligence isn’t just poor service. If professional negligence results in you incurring losses, you may be legally entitled to claim compensation.

IP infringement
Particularly today, the IP (intellectual property) a business owns is of significant importance.

The most common IP infringement disputes relate to copyright, trademarks, design rights, branding and logos. Breach of licencing agreements and copying websites are particularly common areas.

In these cases, it can be an incredibly difficult time for the individual whose work has been infringed – and for companies, any allegations of copyright theft or theft or infringement of intellectual property can be damaging both financially and in terms of reputation.

IP disputes often arise when other businesses infringe your IP, or take action against you for infringing their IP rights. As with other disputes, you need to understand your rights and the best approach to dispute resolution.

In cases where there is an intellectual property dispute, it is important to seek expert legal advice before a dispute escalates.

Contact our specialist team for further advice on 01792 468684 or email enquiries@pgmsolicitors.co.uk.

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