Whether you are a dispute resolution practitioner or a commercial operator, you know that some manage to navigate the commercial dispute resolution world more effectively than others. What distinguishes those who thrive from those who barely survive? The answer may be simpler than you think, but the implications of understanding this could have a big impact on the way you approach commercial disputes.

The Global Pound Conference travelled around the world asking commercial users, judges, mediators, lawyers, academics and government officials to share everything they know about the difference between users who are dispute-savvy and those who are not. After talking to the first 350 respondents, it seems that if you are dispute-savvy:

1. You see the bigger picture
You look for solutions or ways to move forward rather than focusing on vengeance or blame. To do this you consider the dispute from different perspectives, rather than having a fixed mindset about what the outcome should be. You understand the importance of maintaining business relationships for continued commercial success.

2. You are more autonomous
You take an active role in negotiations around both the process and the outcome of a dispute. You are less reliant on lawyers to drive things and look to draw on a range of dispute resolution processes that are tailored to your particular dispute.

3. You have realistic expectations
You take a pragmatic approach to disputes. You are aware that resolving disputes costs both time and money. To maximise the chance of obtaining cost-effective, timely and enforceable solutions you keep sight of the bigger picture.

The consequences for these findings are twofold. Firstly, for those of us who are commercial clients, we can use this information to consider the way we approach disputes. Secondly, for those of us who are commercial practitioners, we can use the information to identify the different needs, wants and expectations of our clients.

In our next installment, we will bring you insights on how commercial practitioners can tailor practice to best meet the needs of clients, whether dispute-savvy or not.

In the meantime, the GPC Series will continue to collect data of this nature from around the world. For those of you who want more information about the research underpinning this blog, please refer to the Singapore Session 1: Hierarchy of needs, wants and expectations of parties involved in commercial dispute resolution processes.

First published on the GPC Blog October 6, 2016.