Three words that could help you avoid a drawn-out dispute

In our democracy, we have a legal order, we have a constitution, and we believe that we have legitimacy.

People don’t like going against the natural order and don’t want others to perceive them as illegitimate. Therefore, our constitutional rights matter: the rule of law, freedom of expression, and human rights.

Yet, it seems as though the belligerents of the world are at each other’s throats because with ideologies that are so far apart, divergence is inevitable.

General Sir Richard Shirreff’s book, War with Russia, is a work of military fiction and a timely reminder of the events leading up to the conflict in Ukraine seven years ago.

Sir Richard’s story lays bare the opposing interests—even among allies—lined up in the NATO HQ in Brussels.

Today, it’s becoming much harder to reach agreement on practically everything. To attempt to do so is to take on a real marathon.

This is because we want rules-based agreements through legal frameworks so we can reach a settlement that sticks. This principle applies across the board, from NATO protecting its members to a neighbour’s dispute over the size of a hedge or a conflict between a company’s shareholders.

To lighten this up a bit, let’s look at a singular divergence that simply takes time to repair. That of the tempestuous teenage years:

  • “Adolescence is that period in a kid’s life when parents become more difficult.” Ryan O’Neal.
  • “There’s nothing wrong with teenagers that reasoning won’t aggravate.” Lionel Rees
  • “Someday you’re going to have to tell your Dad to go to hell.” Warren Buffet

There are always plenty of occasions when matters could be brought to a conclusion in this family relationship. Because, while everyone is fighting, they are at least still talking to each other! But as we all know from personal experience (as we’ve all been teenagers), they grow out of it. It’s only a matter of time.

At Moot, we know there are numerous opportunities to de-escalate the potential for conflict.

This de-escalation can be a formal process. For example, one way is to activate or escalate through contractual dispute resolution clauses. Another is to adopt the tried and tested methods of alternative dispute resolution such as mediation.

And it can be an informal process through structured meetings.

In the examples in the General’s book, the ambassadors of the NATO nations carry on like teenagers, maybe because they see opportunities in these discussions to increase their advantage at their rival’s expense.

This is the long game of the marathon man: continually prodding a weakness, wanting more and more until the other side collapses in exhaustion.

One day, to break the deadlock, someone will have to tell the other to go to…

We’d be happy to help.

Moot Hill dispute resolution Leicestershire