How to effectively handle business disputes in Ireland

If you are involved in a business dispute, you need to take these fool-proof steps in order to resolve it as quickly and efficiently as possible.

We are going to show you the most common types of business disputes to be aware of and how to resolve them.

What are commercial disputes?

A business or commercial dispute is a disagreement between two or more entities relating to your or someone else’s business.

This can include disagreements between companies and their customers, suppliers, partners, directors and employees.

Business disputes often arise over issues such as shareholding, debts, contracts, roles and responsibilities, fraud, insolvency, pricing, and quality of products or services. Very often it is simply about a difference of opinion.

In some cases, commercial disputes can lead to legal action and even commercial court proceedings and appeals to the Court of Appeal.

Commercial dispute resolution often requires the help of a mediator or commercial lawyer who can narrow the commercial issues between the parties and help you to find solutions by approaching issues from different angles. In fact under Rules of the Superior Courts in Ireland a Judge may invite paties to consider mediation prior to a dispute being heard in Court.

The types of conflicts our clients face

The challenges our clients typically face fall into one of three categories:

  • disputes with investors
  • disagreements between shareholders or partners
  • disputes with employees and directors
  • disagreements with customers or suppliers


Commercial Contracts

Contracts are a common cause of commercial disputes and arise when one party in a contract believes that the other party has breached the contract.

A breach of contract can occur when one party fails to perform their obligations under the contract, or if they fail to meet the standards set out in the contract.

If you are involved in a commercial contractual dispute, there are a number of things you can do to try to resolve the dispute, such as mediation or arbitration.

It is important that your commercial contracts are up to date and reflect recent changes in the law. A commercial solicitor can help to review your contracts or draft new agreements that are legally binding.

Shareholder Conflict

Shareholders are individuals or entities that own shares of stock in a company. It is important to enter into a shareholder’s agreement in order to regulate the relationship between the shareholders in a company.

Investors typically take a back seat role in a company, having provided capital in exchange for a shareholding in the Company. An investor shareholder will typically have a different agenda or strategy in relation to the Company compared to an owner shareholder. An investor shareholder will seek to control key decisions made by the board of directors. There may be conflict between the investor shareholders and the owner shareholders if the Company does not perform as well as it should.

These disputes can arise for a variety of reasons, such as mismanagement of the company, fraud, or breach of contract.

It can be an area of complex litigation depending on how robust the shareholder’s agreement is. Very often, due to an oversight, the shareholders fail to enter into a shareholder’s agreement. If the shareholders are in dis[ute, this can cause friction between the parties and if the shareholders cannot come to a collective agreement the only method of resolving a dispute may be to take the dispute to Court.

Companies in Ireland need to have effective dispute resolution procedures in place to resolve these types of disputes efficiently and in a cost effective manner.

These procedures are commonly set out in the company’s shareholder’s agreement. The agreement should be designed to prevent future conflict and protect the rights of individual shareholders.


These types of disagreement are typically between two or more parties that are involved in the supply chain of a product or service.

For example, it could be a disagreement over quality, price, or delivery terms.

Disagreements with suppliers can disrupt the flow of goods and services as well as being a drain on the company’s resources.

In severe cases, supplier disputes can even lead to commercial court proceedings.

Having a cutting edge, commercial supplier agreement will ensure that your rights are protected and both parties are made aware of their obligations and responsibilities.


Licensing is very often used in franchising, by commercial agents and in the entertainment industry. These types of disputes occur when two or more parties are unable to agree upon the terms of a licence, or, for example in circumstances where an individual wishes to use copyrighted work and the owner of the copyright wants to prevent, limit or is in dispute with the user

Licensing disputes may also involve allegations of infringement, or breach of contract.

A commercial litigation lawyer like Adams Law LLP can review the terms of your licence agreements in order to ensure that your interests are protected.

Competition Law

Typically these disputes revolve around unfair advantage and having a dominant position in a market. These disputes can be about anything from pricing, to marketing, to product design.

Competition law can prevent monopolies dominating one market.

Competition disputes can be resolved through negotiation or mediation, while criminal Competition Law Disputes can be tried in court, where you will need legal representation.

Product Liability Disputes

These disputes can often involve multiple parties, including the manufacturer, distributor, and retailer of the product.

In addition, the laws governing product liability vary from country to country, however in Ireland the laws are primarily governed by EU law.

As a result, it is important to consult with an experienced international business lawyer such as Adams Law LLP before pursuing a product liability claim.

Employee Disputes

An employer should take complaints from an employee extremely seriously.

Ireland has laws in place to protect employee rights and employment disputes can be very common for businesses.

They can involve allegations of discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, or other employment-related claims.

They can be expensive and time-consuming to resolve, often resulting in significant financial damages and negative publicity for the company.

As a result, it is important for businesses to have a clear understanding of the workplace rights of an employee. An experienced employment lawyer can provide invaluable guidance on how to avoid and resolve employee disputes.

By proactively addressing potential legal issues, businesses can minimize the risk of employment disputes through procedures for grievances and well drafted legally binding agreements.

Defamation Disputes

Defamation can occur when false statements are made about a person or business.

These statements can damage the reputation of the person or business and may even lead to financial losses.

Complaints may come from fellow director, a partner, employee or even a client. You should contact an independent lawyer such as Adams Law LLP for further information on the next steps and whether litigation can successfully resolve your dispute.

IP Infringement

Intellectual Property (IP) is key to many businesses and where another party infringes your company’s IP rights this can have a dramatic effect on your company’s sales and ultimately its profitability. If you suspect your company’s IP rights are being infringed, the first step is to identify the infringing party and gather evidence of the particular infringement(s).

This may involve keeping records of the various infringements or obtaining records from the infringing party.

Legal action may be required in order to stop the infringement and recover damages resulting from the infringement for your business.

This may involve filing a lawsuit or negotiating a settlement.

By taking action to stop IP Infringement, a law firm such as Adams Law LLP can help a business protect its intellectual property rights, protect against your business being fundamentally damaged and ultimately protect the company’s profits or bottom line.

Health and Safety

Clear policies and procedures for health and safety can increase a company’s ability to resolve health and safety complaints both sooner and more effectively.

By ensuring that all employees are aware of these policies and procedures, businesses can minimize the risk of health and safety disputes.

Reducing accidents at work can be achieved by having a strong health and safety policy, continuous training and by ensuring that your work environment is a safe place for staff and customers.

Additionally, businesses should regularly review their health and safety practices in order to ensure that they are up to date with the latest regulations and guidelines from Ireland and the EU.

Debt Disputes

A commercial debt is a debt that a business owes to you or a third party.

Commercial law firms like Adams Law LLP can help businesses negotiate with other businesses, they can help businesses file lawsuits, and they can assist businesses with insolvency issues.

Customer Disputes

We cannot reiterate the importance of having strong terms and conditions in relation to the sale of good and the provision of services. You need to protect your interests and that might be in relation to retention of title, the provision of after sales service, GDPR, misuse of products and services, termination, copyright and trademarks to name but a few of the most typical issues that arise from a customer perspective. You should make sure that you have a robust customer contract with terms and conditions that protect your company’s interests. These need to be update and a regular basis in order to ensure they  both Irish and EU laws.

What is alternative dispute resolution for businesses?

While disputes are common, they can also be costly and time-consuming to resolve. That’s where alternative dispute resolution (ADR) comes in.

Alternative dispute resolution refers to any method of resolving disputes outside of the traditional court system. This can include mediation, arbitration, and even simple negotiation. The goal of ADR is to reach a resolution that is fair to all parties involved, without the need for expensive and lengthy litigation.

There are many benefits of using ADR to resolve business disputes.

For one thing, it can save time and money by avoiding the costly and time-consuming process of going to court, whether that involves going to the High Court, the Court of Appeal or the Commercial Court.

Additionally, ADR can help preserve relationships between parties, as the process is often less acrimonious when compared tolitigation.

Finally, ADR can provide more flexibility in terms of resolution, as the parties involved have more control over the outcome than they would in Court.

If you find yourself in a business dispute, alternative dispute resolution is definitely worth considering.

How to Resolve a Business Dispute

The first step in resolving a business dispute is to try to reach an agreement with the other party.

If you are unable to come to an agreement, you may need to go through mediation or arbitration.

Mediation is a process where a neutral third party helps the parties to reach an agreement. Mediation are non-binding until such time as you want them to be binding, i.e. where you have settled a dispute and want to enter into a binding settlement agreement.

Arbitration is a process where a neutral third party reviews the facts of the case and makes a binding decision.

If you are still unable to resolve the dispute, you may need to take further action.

Before filing a lawsuit, you should consult with a lawyer to determine whether you have a valid claim and whether litigation is the best option for you.

What to do if you are involved in a business dispute

Look at ways to save yourself time, money and keep your reputation in-tact.

Our dispute resolution department recommends managing the risks involved with alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques such as arbitration and mediation.

You should be realistic about what you hope to achieve, for example, can your opponent’s afford to pay compensation if you are successful? Try and leave aside the personal nature of a dispute and look for practical commercial solutions that work for all of the parties.

Any trip to the courts will require funding, so bear that in mind.

You should gather evidence to support your claim, including digital and electronic documents and records.

Get Legal Advice

Adams Law LLP represent not only clients in Ireland but a cast array international clients on a whole range of commercial litigation and commercial dispute issues.

If you have a questions about any type of business dispute or commercial litigation matter, do not hesitate in getting in touch now.

Article by: Milan Schuster