A give-and-take situation that takes the form of a discussion or conference in an attempt to reach an agreement or settle a dispute.

In the case of negotiation the parties or their legal representatives deal directly with one another to discuss the resolution of the dispute.  It is dependent upon the parties communicating with each other and engaging in meaningful discussion.

Negotiation can be seen as a positive first step and may result in a settlement without going to court. Negotiation will start with one side approaching the other with details of their complaint and of what they consider a satisfactory outcome. The other side will not have to agree to take part in negotiation before you, or your representative, approach them. You can negotiate face to face, by letter,  email or telephone, if both sides are happy to deal with the problem in the same way.

If an agreement is reached both sides can make a legally binding contract by producing and signing an agreement making it possible to take court action if the other side does not fulfil the agreement.

In negotiations there will be no independent third party, you may have someone negotiating on your behalf and that person will act for you and will represent your interest, but they are not independent and they are able to advise you of the best action to take. In this respect negotiation is different from conciliation and mediation.

Parties will often resolve the matter themselves, faulty goods taken back to the shop or returned to the supplier are usually replaced or the money refunded once the two parties have agreed on a course of action.

Negotiation is often used to settle business disputes and when dealing with personal situations such as disputes with neighbours, marriage and divorce.

Whereas court proceedings are usually open to the public and press, negotiation is completely private.  Negotiation can be the quickest and cheapest and also the most private method of settling a problem.  The disadvantages are that the dispute may not be settled at all in which case the parties will have to try something else and, if negotiation leads to an agreement, that is the end of your dispute. You are not able to re-open it later.

The longer the negotiations go on the higher the costs and this will always be the case if lawyers are instructed to conduct the negotiations on behalf of their clients.  Negotiations are possible not just at the outset prior to the commencement of court proceedings but can continue even after court proceedings have begun.

Princes' privacy complaints to the PCC resolved through negotiation

Ombudsman Services 

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