What should I do when I have a dispute with someone?

What should I do when I have a dispute with someone?

An overview of things to do and think about if you end up in a dispute with a contractor.


If you’re involved in a dispute with someone, try the following steps:

Set Up A Private Meeting

If you have concerns, discuss it with the other party as soon as possible in private. Be professional and create a situation where you can discuss the issue calmly. Do not raise the problem loudly in front of a group of people.

Send A Follow-Up Letter

If the problem wasn’t resolved after the private meeting, you can follow it up with a dated email or letter that clearly outlines the problem, and any discussions, including points of agreement and disagreement, from the private meeting. Having a clear paper trail is useful if the issue is not resolved and you need to take it further. Request a confirmation and a return receipt so you can prove that it was received. The communication should state things as clearly as, for example, "You agreed to do [X] according to the contract, but as of yet have failed to do so” or “We agreed as a result that you would do [Y].”

Consider Legal Advice

Set up a consultation with an attorney and explain your situation. You may want to hire the attorney to write a letter to the other party to advise them that, for example, they are in breach of contract. Be aware that if you pursue the case, the cost of hiring an attorney could be larger than the amount of money you recover.

Document Any Settlement

If you are able to reach a resolution, make sure you write down what both parties agreed to moving forward. Date the document, with a signature from both parties.

If you need to pursue more formal avenues to reach a resolution, or if you’ve received a claim letter from someone, read our guides on How to Work With a Lawyer and Litigation and Dispute Resolution Basics.