Home Business NewsBusiness Professional services specialists join forces to transform commercial dispute resolution for SMEs

Professional services specialists join forces to transform commercial dispute resolution for SMEs

by LLB Reporter
26th May 17 2:50 pm

Here’s what they said

A group of leading professional services businesses, including accountants PKF, Haines Watts and Price Bailey; law firms Bermans and Moore Blatch; legal expenses expert QBE Insurance; and insurance claims mediation specialist Flaxmans have come together to launch a ground-breaking commercial dispute resolution service for SMEs.

The new process called Escalate removes the barriers that currently prevent claimants from pursuing their cases by helping them with their cashflow.  Escalate then focusses on achieving a prompt settlement, with fixed fees payable only on a successful outcome and no upfront costs.  This contrasts with the traditional commercial dispute resolution process that typically takes 18 months; is often billed by the hour; can require the payment of disbursements, such as court fees or the costs of an expert, up front; and leaves the claimant at risk from large legal bills in the event of failure.

Escalate is a two-stage process. Firstly, Escalate focuses on a negotiated settlement, using licenced corporate recovery specialists with a track record of rapidly recovering assets to negotiate on behalf of the claimant, and encouraging the defendant to settle quickly in the client’s favour without the need for litigation.  The process allows a maximum of three months for this negotiation.

If the defendant is unwilling to settle in this timeframe, solicitors acting on a fully conditional basis will begin preparing for litigation with the back-up of the adverse costs insurance.  As part of the service, all fees and associated costs are funded and paid on the client’s behalf all the way up to a High Court resolution.

The Escalate process covers the full range of commercial dispute cases, including bad debt, contractual, and negligence – and there are no restrictions on the size or complexity of the projects that the service can deal with.  Importantly, it can tackle cases going back up to three years, enabling businesses to start to recover monies that were previously written off and providing an unexpected cash flow injection. 

Escalate partner firms are currently working on a number of cases, including one involving a business that was forced to cease trading two years ago because of an unresolved dispute.  Escalate is being used to see if additional funds can be returned to creditors, breaking new ground and potentially opening up a new channel through which insolvency practitioners can recover funds.

Chris Clay, one of the architects of the Escalate process, said: “Many businesses don’t pursue commercial disputes because of high upfront costs, long delays and considerable uncertainty – but there is now another way. 

“Escalate was created by looking at each of the steps of the traditional dispute resolution process from the client’s perspective and finding ways of improving them.

“Escalate is a smarter way for businesses to resolve commercial disputes: there’s no financial risk in that clients don’t pay out unless they reach a successful recovery; there’s no pressure on cash flow as we’ve removed all of the upfront costs; the fees are fixed and clear from the start; and we’re confident we can achieve early and good outcomes for clients in most cases.”

For more information on Escalate, visit www.escalatedisputes.co.uk

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