Monday, 26 January 2009

The secret of avoiding litigation

I have a friend who is continuously involved in claims and litigation. He follows every case with passion, spending what I consider a disproportionate amount of time, money, and effort in making his rights prevail.

Since I am almost never involved myself in any court case, he recently asked me for advice about how to avoid getting constantly caught in the legal maze. "There is no magic in this," I replied, "and I believe that luck plays only a minor role."

My approach is based on two simple principles that have rarely failed me:
  1. Be ready to give up minor claims, even if you are right, since the effort required to obtain compensation is out of proportion. Being alive involves making decisions and taking risks every day. If you lose a bit now and then, take it as a side effect of playing the game. It is usually better to waive a small claim than to get caught into legal entanglements.
  2. Work at improving your judgement of people. The better you are at assessing dangers and strangers, the easier you can avoid them. It rarely pays to devote your energies at trying to change people. If you have serious doubts about someone's honesty, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by not doing business with that person (let alone marrying him or her).
Anyway, if you do wish to seek compensation for damages, see if you can reach an agreement. Settling your grievance out of court will usually be most effective than going through expensive litigation.


[Image by twoblueday under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]