How to prevent a dispute?
If the best way to extinguish a fire is to prevent it, the best way to succeed in a Din Torah is to refrain from getting into a monetary dispute. In order to be able to do that – it is necessary to be familiar with the factors that usually cause disagreements to acquire tools that will help us avoid them.
What causes disputes?
My experience shows that there are three main things that lead to monetary disputes:
We all engage in deals and monetary transactions, if it be renting an apartment, remodeling our house or ordering a new kitchen. What happens too many a time is that we don’t get down to the details, which causes disagreements and misunderstandings between us and the contractor or vendor we engaged with.
We develop expectations based on what we *believed to be* the details of the deal, or what we were *100% sure* we agreed upon with the vendor or service supplier, but then we realize that they had something totally different in mind or “missed” (sometimes unintentionally) what we specified to them at the time we closed the deal or placed the order.
- You agreed with your boss to receive a raise in salary, but didn’t clarify if the number included social benefits (like a retirement plan or “keren hishtalmut”). You may have thought the number reflected your net salary while HR meant it to be the gross salary before tax deduction.
- You put your car in the garage for repairs, and realize he’s asking for much more thatn the price he originally quoted. When you bring it up, he says: “well, the quote didn’t include labor and VAT”! (Yea, there are standard relating to these issues, but why not clarify them up front??)
- You order a kitchen from a carpenter, and when it arrives you discover the colors are off and the measurements aren’t accurate. When you confront him – he says: “I don’t know what you’re talking about, that’s what you ordered”. Well, if you’d specified the official color code and signed a detailed plan – this dispute could’ve been avoided pretty simply!
- Disagreement on the facts
These are extremely common.
Here are a few examples:
- Someone that owes you money claims he paid you a long time ago, but you can’t remember a thing. You’re sure they never did so. Well, if nothing is recorded – here comes the dispute.
- You ordered a product on the internet and you’re absolutely sure you never received it. The company claims it was sent to you a long time ago.
- You got laid off from your current job. When you claim social benefits and severance from your employer – they claim you quit on your own behalf and therefore you deserve nothing!
Many a time these factual disagreements happen unintentionally just because of lack of documentation. But sometimes they occur because one of the parties is dishonest and isn’t telling the truth. Early prevention of these type of situations will definitely lower the chance of a dispute.
The last cause for litigation wer’e going to discuss in this email/post is –
- Collection problems
There are some times when there are no misunderstanding and no factual arguments, and still the parties end up in a Din Torah session.
Because one of the parties – usually the one that’s supposed to pay or supply goods – defaults and doesn’t pay, due to financial problems and lack of fluidity in his accounts.
Too many a time, I’ve met people who put precious money they saved up for years in the hands of private businessmen who promised them the moon, or at least a double digit secure profit on their investment. And naturally when nothing happened, they unfortunately discovered to their disdain that their savings just went down the drain.
It’s not always possible to prevent a financial downfall, but:
- You should take the possibility into account at the start (and beware of being blinded by unrealistic predictions).
- Research the viability of the deal with a professional before going ahead with it (or at least make sure you get proper securities as a backup).
To sum up:
The three main causes for monetary dispute are:
- Factual disagreements
- Collection problems
In the next post we will discuss three practical tools that can prevent these type of situations, and as a result reduce significantly the chance of a dispute.