Houston energy litigation attorney Kathy Silver recently shared her tips for dispute resolution in an article for FuelFix.com. The article, “Think before you sue: Tips for resolving oil and gas disputes,” outlines practical approaches for lawyers and business people to avoid costly litigation and maintain effective business relationships.
Kathy’s first tip for energy companies engaged in business disputes is to consider the importance of the relationship. She advises that in the early stages of a dispute, it is sometimes helpful for attorneys to stay out of the conversation and let the business people try to negotiate a solution.
“Many lawyers would never suggest their clients speak to the opposing party without counsel. But business leaders typically are experienced negotiators,” Kathy wrote. “As long as the right people are selected and prepared, chances are they can work out a solution that maintains the relationship.”
If a solution can’t be reached before a suit is filed, Kathy argues that obtaining and sharing key facts and/or data can help resolve cases early. She cites an example where a storage company filed suit against a chemical plant over the alleged mis-measurement of hydrocarbons. Once the parties and their lawyers met to discuss and review the facts, it was determined that the storage company had incorrect data, resulting in the dismissal of the case.
Finally, Kathy discussed the option of informal mediation. She argues that the main benefit of this is to save time and money by resolving the dispute out of court and advises lawyers and clients to come to the table prepared to negotiate.
“A lawyer should note the amount of time, money and effort that will be involved if the parties do not resolve the case and encourage the clients to explore options for a business resolution,” Kathy advised. “The client representatives must be prepared to know what cards to play and what cards to hold back for trial if the case does not settle. They also should be able to offer different business solutions.”
About Kathy Silver
Kathy Silver is a litigation attorney who represents clients in the oil and gas industry and in general commercial disputes. She represents companies of all sizes in disputes involving contracts, fiduciary duty, implied and express covenants, fraud, and other claims. Kathy also has experience in employment litigation and has tried employee theft and Fair Labor Standards Act cases.