Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Court As A Last Resort

Got a dispute? With the cleaners, the shoemaker, the neighbor, or even a family member? We are talking money here, or losses incurred from property damage. My advice: the last place to go is to court.

The first place to go is a conversation with the party who "wronged" you. I can hear the groans and envision the eye-rolling of the cynics. Trust me, the key is communication. Court is time-consuming, expensive, and nerve-wracking, and, once there, you will have to have that conversation, anyway. There is one major difference, however; the court, and I mean, the judge, decides the outcome.

At court, there is generally only one winner and, hence, a resultant loser. One party leaves happy, the other, deflated. A possibility lies in the realm outside the system where you and your antagonist may reach a satisfactory resolution. Since you must face the inevitable conversation, then it makes sense to initiate it on your own and eliminate the additional expenses that tally at court.

Here's the tip: practice what you must do at court, i.e., to stay calm. Focus on the problem - the loss, the damage - and not your personal vendetta against your antagonist. Whatever you may think of his/her/their behavior is not the issue. It will take some effort, but that's what works.

Believe me, most of the issues that come before me as judge could, and should, have been resolved outside the court's jurisdiction. What have you got to lose? If you lose your cool or cannot settle the dispute, you can always come to court.

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