Seven top tips for navigating a partnership dispute in public

14th November 2023

An essential part of managing a successful public partnership is to maintain a harmonious collaboration throughout the course of dealings.

However, even with the best intentions and preparations, conflicts are inevitable in any partnership. In this article, we will explore seven key strategies to aid you in navigating an arising public dispute within your partnership.

1. Clear communication: Establishing an open and transparent channel of communication is crucial. To aid in this, you should clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each partner within the partnership, as well as aligning what each partner’s visions and expectations are from the outset. This ensues all parties have a shared understanding of their respective contributions and objectives.

2. Remain calm: This may seem obvious, but it is often easier said than done. When a dispute arises, you can often feel backed into a corner and under pressure to act quickly, particularly when the dispute is playing out in the public. However, it is important not to do anything drastic – and to instead take a moment to pause and carefully think through any move you make before acting hastily, as acting on a whim could result in a costly mistake for you in the future. It is important to note that you are not alone in this. A legal adviser will be able to help you navigate through any arising disputes.

3. Legal expertise: Following on from above, it is key to seek legal advice not only when a dispute arises, but also when structuring the partnership. Our Commercial team have a wealth of knowledge on how to structure your partnership and work to ensure that you have adequate protective measures in place within your partnership agreement, so that in the event that a dispute should arise in the future, navigating through it will be made as seamless as possible as a result of the careful drafting of our specialists.

4. Mediation and negotiation: Make sure that you include a mediation clause in your partnership agreement. This alternative dispute resolution mechanism will offer a more efficient and private way of resolving conflict compared to a lengthy and costly court battle. This is often the preferred method of dealing with disputes, particularly with public partnerships – who will be keen to avoid having the specifics of their disputes detailed in public.

5. Regular review and evaluation: The partnership’s progress should be periodically reviewed, and the agreement should be assessed and updated where relevant to address any emerging issues promptly as the business develops. Taking a proactive approach and having regular reviews allows partners to identify and resolve potential conflicts as and when they occur, as opposed to adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach.

6. Crisis management plan: It is important to devise a crisis management plan from the onset of forming your partnership, which would address any unforeseen challenges that may occur. Having predefined strategies for handling crises can prevent disputes from escalating and damaging the partnership’s reputation and would afford you the control on how the dispute will be portrayed and depicted in the public eye.

7. Exit strategies: Finally, you should have a well-defined exit strategy within your partnership agreement which clearly outlines the terms and conditions of the exit, such as the timeline, deliverables, payments, and responsibilities. Having a formal exit strategy and knowing how to gracefully conclude an agreement will help you to avoid any possible misunderstandings, disputes, and legal issues.

By implementing these strategies, parties within partnerships will be able to minimise the risk of disputes arising. However, in the event that a dispute should arise, the partnership would have the robust foundation required to withstand and navigate through any dispute that may arise in the public eye.

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