If you are faced with a choice, the legal consequences of which you do not fully grasp, you can seek advice. For example, if you have to choose a type of enterprise or if you are going to enter into a contract. In addition, you can seek advice in the event of legal disputes. However, you should also think about how you can avoid them.
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Where can you turn to for legal advice?
You can ask for legal advice from trade unions, professional organisations, the Legal Aid and Advice Centre (Juridisch Loket) or via your legal expenses insurance. Other examples include legal advisers who specialise in your field. Good to know: for advice from a trade union or professional organisation, you often need to be a member, and the Legal Aid and Advice Centre is not for entrepreneurs. Legal expenses insurers mainly litigate, but also give useful advice occasionally if you foresee a problem.
Before you seek advice, you must be able to clearly formulate what it’s about precisely. For example; your employment contract, renting workspace or your copyright. It can also be about a conflict. Maybe you have not received your money? Or you are being held liable for loss or damage that another person says they have suffered?
Would you like to know about the legal ins and outs of a dispute or conflict situation? Or would you like someone to represent you? In that case, the aim of legal help is to be in a stronger position in your dealings with the other. What are the legal aspects of the conflict: what is correct, what is negotiation or bluff, and what isn’t? Who has the law on their side? The advice will give you more know-how or strategic tips for a successful resolution.
A legal dispute
When cooperation problems mount, one of the parties may translate these problems into obligations. Then it is only one step to legal obligations and to the so-called 'juridification' of a conflict. If that party then calls in legal advice, and the legal adviser is guided by the legal standpoint (and does not ask questions about the undiscussed sides of the case), you have a legal conflict.
In addition, legal conflicts with authorities or the government also occur. Examples include payment of tax, applying for a benefit, having to close your studio due to noise nuisance. Those are also issues that are related to rights and duties. In such a situation, you may have to seek legal advice more quickly, because the periods of time may be short and the consequences great.
The limitations of legal solutions in conflicts
Remember that legally trained people are often not trained in handling complaints in the broader sense of the word. With many issues, going to a legal adviser, lawyer and/or court can have a positive impact in the short term – one example being the feeling of justice being served. In the longer term, it may also turn out to have adverse consequences, for example:
- the decision from the court may take months or years,
- with each legal letter or document, the parties will become even more convinced of their rightness, as a result of which a solution will be even more elusive and, moreover, the relationship will keep deteriorating,
- the litigation may be much more expensive than all the parties had expected, but nobody can/wants to go back anymore so far into the legal proceedings,
- the lawyers seem to only make the case more incomprehensible.
Preventing a legal dispute
If you get into a conflict, you don’t always have to opt for the legal approach straight away. Discussing the problem is almost always a better start if you want to reach a solution. In that case, we are talking about conflict management. Are you entering into a contract or agreement? If so, always ask yourself what you would like to have on paper if things don’t go as positively as you expect. Lay down agreements as clearly as possible and think about general terms and conditions.