The best steps to take in a dispute resolution procedure may vary slightly in different situations, but for the most part, they would always start with solid documentation. No matter what actually happened or who is at fault, having all of the pertinent information in writing makes the whole process move along much more smoothly. Making the initial contact to report a problem should be completed as quickly as possible as well. It also makes sense to seek legal counsel in any dispute resolution procedure to protect the claimant from being countersued. From there, a dispute resolution procedure would eventually lead to a written agreement, arbitration, or a court of law.
When an issue takes place that affects a person or a business, the party at fault will often correct the issue immediately if he is contacted in a civil tone. Whenever time is allowed to pass, it makes it much harder on everyone involved to determine what the right thing to do would be. Likewise, if a consumer approaches another party in a hostile manner and threatens to immediately seek legal action, it often has the opposite effect of what he expected to happen. In these situations, the other party is much less likely to admit fault. Consumers should always grant businesses and other people the benefit of the doubt that the problem will be handled correctly.
There is, however, a limit to waiting for the other party to do the right thing. If a consumer feels that the initial dispute resolution procedure that was discussed is not being carried out appropriately, it would be in his best interest to start documenting the details. A list should be comprised of every person involved in the dispute, including the times that phone calls were made and what details were promised. That way, if the other entity does not complete the dispute resolution procedure to the person's satisfaction, there is a paper trail to introduce in court.
Once communications become hostile or less frequent, it is in the claimant's best interest to seek legal counsel immediately. An attorney will be able to advise what steps should be taken to speed up the dispute resolution procedure. For example, there may be outside sources that could help the consumer receive satisfaction without filing a legal suit. The only way to determine that is by speaking with a lawyer.
If the opposing party still refuses to adhere to a fair dispute resolution procedure, there are a few other options available to the consumer. Reporting the business to any associations that it belongs to is one way to get the company's attention, and other situations may benefit from a call to the local media. Even if these contacts do not rectify the situation, it builds an even bigger paper trail for when the matter goes to the next level.
Arbitration is a dispute resolution procedure offered by most courts to settle a matter without legal representation involved. This process is often the easiest route when two citizens are involved, but if channels of communication remain open, extrajudicial dispute resolution may be the answer. In this procedure, two parties settle the matter without notifying the legal system of the dispute. Mediation and online dispute resolution are two other paths available to settle a disagreement in certain areas; both these procedures have limited legal intervention. If each of these methods fail, then the only remaining dispute resolution process would be civil court.