How to resolve a dispute

Our step-by-step guide to resolving disputes shows what you can do and where mediation fits in

The Ministry of Justice describes how parties should try to resolve disputes in the Civil Procedure Rules.  These rules"explain the conduct and set out the steps the court would normally expect parties to take before commencing proceedings"

Our summary below is a guide to help you navigate your way to a settlement.

Steps to resolve disputes


If you have a dispute, these are "the steps the court would normally expect parties to take before commencing proceedings".

  • 1. Talk it out

    The first step in any dispute is to talk it through with the other party or parties.

    Explain your position and what you need to resolve the dispute. Remain clear, calm and civil. Listen to the other parties position and remain open to reasonable compromise.

    Discuss whether a mediator, as an impartial third party trained to resolve disputes, might help

  • 2. Put it in writing

    If talking doesn't work, write to the other party to formalise your claim, with supporting arguments and a suggested resolution if possible.  

    Your letter can again suggest mediation if professional help might break the deadlock. 

    This letter is known as a letter before claim or letter before court action.  The CAB offer a template.

  • 3. Start mediation

    If the dispute remains unresolved, the courts urge parties to consider mediation or alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

    Mediation is usually faster, cheaper, less stressful and more successful than court action.

    Please contact us if you're at this stage and would like to discuss how we can help.

  • 4. Resort to litigation

    If these steps are unsuccessful or a party refuses mediation, you might have to litigate. The CPR states: "litigation should be a last resort".


    As a reserved activity, only a trained solicitor/lawyer can conduct litigation or a claimant can do this on their own as a litigant in person.

    You should seek legal advice if you reach this point.

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