(will be published in volume 9 Richmond Journal of Global Law and Business, issue 4, in October, 2010)
Commercial relationships create substantial economic activity through licensing,
distributor, supplier, joint venture, and other transactional arrangements. Changes in economic,
market, and other circumstances occur after these relationships begin, however, and often
produce differing performance related perceptions and contractual interpretations. These
differences may generate disagreements regarding responsibilities, obligations, performances,
and entitlements that may escalate into commercial disputes. 1 Because such commercial
disputes are increasing,2 choosing how to confront and resolve them supplies important tasks for
lawyers and their commercial clients in the United States and Latin America.
Lawyers and their commercial clients assess a limited menu of dispute resolution options
when they make important decisions regarding how to proceed resolving commercial
disagreements. Non-violent dispute resolution options include avoiding conflict, seeking
consensual agreement with other participants through negotiation or mediation, and adjudicating
by using arbitration or litigation to let outsiders decide.3 Although found in most of the world’s
cultures and practiced for centuries, mediation is the least used option in this menu.