How to resolve a contractual dispute

When you are running a business, there may be times when you are faced with the problem of having to resolve a contractual dispute. If you are experiencing issues with either a client or a supplier, then it’s time to check the terms and conditions of your contract. We explore different scenarios and suggestions on how best to handle these types of situations.




When a party has a disagreement in relation to the terms or definitions of a contract, this could result in a time-consuming and costly process for everyone concerned. If handled poorly, you could also end up in court.


At worst, this could damage your business reputation, along with any relating client or supplier relationships. Therefore, it’s important to manage any contractual disputes carefully. Always seek professional dispute resolution advice before exacerbating a stressful situation.


Causes of a contractual dispute


There are key steps involved when a contract is formed, including an offer being made, an associated payment for goods or services, and acceptance of that offer. Disputes can also occur throughout this process, even while the contract is being formed.


There are also a few factors to consider when you create a contract and what makes it valid. Each party should agree to and have a sound understanding of the contract terms. If a party does not agree to a term, this may lead to the contract being contested in court.


If you have never written a contract before then it’s wise to get the right support before you end up in a dispute later down the line. A poorly written contract could make your business vulnerable to exploitation, which in itself could have a damaging financial impact.


Common disputes between clients and suppliers


The following are common scenarios which can lead to a contractual dispute:

  • Terms and conditions – this is very common; the client, supplier or contractor do not agree to the terms set out in the contract. Sometimes technical terms and definitions can also be misconstrued and interpreted in the wrong way.

  • Breach of contract – one party has not fulfilled the obligations expected of them. Goods and services may not have been provided in the way they are listed on a contract, due to quality, delays or another factor.

  • Offer expectations – the contract differs from a verbal or written agreement between the parties.

  • Errors in the contract – a simple mistake could lead to a big problem.

In some rarer cases, fraud is also the cause of a contractual dispute. Such cases include where a party complains they have been forced to sign an agreement or the agreement has been forged. It is a good idea to ask an experienced solicitor to create or check your contracts, especially if they are highly detailed or complex.


How do you handle a contractual dispute?


Ideally, all parties should aim towards an amicable resolution of the matter, but this is not always possible. There are two main “remedies” for resolving a contractual dispute – equitable and legal.

  • The equitable remedy – works towards a non-financial solution. This could include rewriting a contract or requesting services and goods are provided. It might also include an order stopping or requiring the other party from acting in a certain way.

  • The legal remedy - enables compensation of monetary damages from the offending party to the claimant.

Before you attempt to resolve a dispute, it is wise to speak to an expert dispute resolution solicitor for advice. They will help you to resolve the disagreement, so you can achieve the best possible outcome. Your solicitor will carefully check the terms and definitions of the contract and listen closely as you explain the cause of the dispute. They will then advise you on the likely outcome, and they may need to gather evidence to support your case.


Our specialist dispute resolution team can manage the whole process on your behalf. We always aim to settle the matter in a timely manner, involving the least amount of people, and avoiding any additional costs and court hearings. Of course, every dispute is different, and our actions will depend on the nature of the dispute. However, our main priority will be to maintain your business reputation, so you can salvage any client and supplier relationships.


If you need advice on a contractual dispute with a client or a supplier, get in touch or email: andrewwhitfield@shbsolicitors.co.uk to arrange a face-to-face or telephone appointment.