Helping To Ease The Way On Dispute Resolution

18 November 2022
3 minutes
Dispute Resolution

Originally published in the September edition of Business Eye magazine

Commercial disputes aren’t what any business owner wants, says Christopher Mason, but they’re an unavoidable fact of business life and need to be dealt with effectively and professionally.

Christopher heads up a dedicated Commercial Litigation team at Belfast-based MKB Law working hand in hand with the firm’s Corporate & Commercial teams and working even more closely with business clients of all shapes and sizes.

“Our clients want to be safe in the knowledge that a strong team is in place at MKB, a team that has their back when it comes to commercial disputes. Our clients know their businesses, they’re commercially astute, and they want direct, practical advice when disputes occur.”

A graduate of the College of Law in Chester, Christopher worked in Liverpool for 10 years, qualifying as a solicitor there in 2013 and going on to become Director of Litigation at a Merseyside law firm similar in size to MKB Law and with a similar client base.

“I moved over to Northern Ireland for family reasons;  I immediately liked what I saw here at MKB. It’s a firm with a strong focus on business clients. In fact, it’s the backbone of what we do. We typically work with business clients ranging from £20 million to £100 million turnover. We’re not involved in areas like personal injury that could take up a lot of our time.

“We set out to resolve commercial disputes as quickly and effectively as we can, and we’ll try to do that as seamlessly as we can, taking as much of the effort, stress and worry as possible from the shoulders of our clients. We do all the heavy lifting, in other words.”

But he admits that rapid resolutions aren’t always possible. “Some disputes are complex or contain deeply entrenched issues, and simply can’t be resolved quickly. What’s important is that we always stay fully engaged to protect the position and interests of our clients throughout the process, however long it takes.

“We want our clients to feel that they can offload the problem to us and we’ll deal with it, so that they can focus on running their businesses. We have to keep clients fully informed, of course, but we take control of the matter and our clients can have as much or as little input as they feel comfortable with; our clients trust us and most of them don’t want to know about what we’re doing in exacting detail.”

Not every commercial dispute, of course, will end up in litigation. Many are resolved by effective negotiation or by formal mediation…increasingly used to resolve disputes and avoid expensive court proceedings. The majority of cases are also resolved before trial begins, some of them on the steps of the court itself.

“Whatever way a dispute is eventually resolved, it’s absolutely crucial that business owners and managers have access to professional legal advice from a very early stage,” adds Christopher. “Leave it too late and the risks are increased substantially.”

Christopher Mason heads up a Commercial Litigation team that also includes experienced solicitor Gavin Coyle and trainee solicitor Michael Murphy. It’s team that Christopher fully intends to grow over the coming years as its client base grows.

Technology, he says, plays an increasingly important role in today’s commercial litigation. As a firm, MKB Law was one of the early adopters of paperless systems and the latest legal software and technology.

“In litigation, you have to be flexible. Every day is different, and technology plays a major role in the effective processing of information, communication and the professional management of what can be quite complex processes. It’s an area that we will continue to invest in going forward.”

This article is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional legal advice.

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