Lawyers help clients resolve contract law disputes even when there is no written contract. Usually the costs increase, but we have ways to reduce them.

Written contracts are great business tools. Complications arise when there is no written contract. This usually leads to missing  (and often legally critical) details.

The lack of detail creates three types of complications in legal work.

  1. Taking instructions from a client, ie getting a background briefing on the full story, becomes more time consuming.
  2. Proving the client’s case to the satisfaction of the other side becomes harder. Ideally you’d have a written contract which tells the story clearly, attracting consequent legal remedies a court is likely to grant. If there is no written contract, a “story” must be written and proved. Which gets us to step 3, selling the story.
  3. Convincing the other side to negotiate and settle becomes harder, whether or not the story is accepted. If the other side is not conviced then they might: (1) say they don’t “buy” the story, (2) argue the point, or (3) let you take the risk to start a court case for a resolution mandated by a judge.

Obtaining the background briefing at step 1 involves a lawyer working out precise details. Precise details permit a lawyer to work like a surgeon, not a butcher.

The background briefing details include:

  • Names and relationships between relevant the parties
  • Deal points between the parties about their arrangement
  • Statements made as remembered or collected, eg in emails
  • Copies of documents, if any, eg policies, letters, receipts, emails
  • Chronological order of all the foregoing.

Applying contract law is more like playing chess than noughts and crosses. A proper brief gives lawyers the prerequisite data for providing legal advice. So steps 2 and 3 are taken only after finalisation of “taking instructions”.

Given the workload of “taking instructions”, how do we reduce costs?

For this our long-standing procedure is to email to clients a fill-in template titled “Case Evidence Collection Advice Letter”. It guides a client to itself prepare a chronology of events and a list of documents. This saves hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars of lawyer time. It reduces the need for face to face meetings.

We conduct meetings with clients, including using Skype, if and when strategic decisions must be made. These involve hard questions which benefit from brainstorming or careful explanation and review in a meeting.

Our electronic procedure applies in many types of cases, eg when we work
for clients who need us to issue, or respond to, a letter of demand.

It is fitting to end with a recommendation. Want to avoid contract law legal costs, not just reduce them? Call an experienced lawyer to draft a contract. Simple, really.

Contact us with any questions or requests.

Noric Dilanchian