Court claims or negotiated settlements

Filed under : Commercial Law, Legal Consultations, Litigation

Court claims or negotiated settlements
Many people think that litigation, going to court, is the only way to settle a claim. In Spain at the moment many Courts are not able to deal with claims within a year or even 2 – 3 years because of the pressure on the system. This is mainly as a result of the increase in litigation during the economic crisis and everyone hopes that the situation will improve in the coming years.
Equally it is often thought that lawyers, abogados, can only assist with a claim by going to court. However the priority for most lawyers is to find a way to settle outside of court by negotiating with the other party and, or, with their lawyer. This applies to all areas of law from major contractual disputes between companies to family matters and divorces.
In commercial or business disputes it is becoming increasingly common to submit to an arbitration procedure. In certain specific cases the Junta de Andalucía can appoint an arbitrator who can hear a claim with both parties presenting their case and a decision is reached within weeks rather than years.
In debt matters it is often far better to appoint a lawyer to seek an agreement with creditors than to leave the situation until a court case commences with the increased costs and uncertainty. While not all debt problems can be solved this way it is better to have someone who can review the situation and give advice on the consequences of non-payment of banks and creditors.
A financial claim in court on divorce can be detrimental to both parties as the costs increase and there is a major difficulty with transfers of matrimonial property. Divorce Orders to transfer property or sell at market rates are quite common in the UK. However in Spain the Judge can only order a sale by court controlled auction and this can take a number of years and diminish the value of the property. Your lawyer can try to negotiate a settlement for a mutually agreed divorce. This can save costs and equally importantly you can avoid the stress of long running litigation.
There will always be some situations where you will need an experienced litigator. For example preventing a neighbour from unlicensed or illegal building. It is only a Judge who can issue an injunction – interdicto – to stop the work. Also if someone owes you money and you know they are trying to sell their property to avoid the debt you would need to go to court to ask for an embargo or freezing order against the property.
As with so many legal issues prevention is better than cure so seek advice when the problem arises rather than waiting until you have no choice or a legal action is started.
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