People in the society are guided by their religion, morals, values and beliefs. Every person’s behaviour and actions are a result of these. And no religion, moral, value or belief encourage disputes and disagreements. All of them promote living with peace, harmony and brotherhood.
However, every person has some needs as well as greed. Every person wants thing working in his/her own way and manner. and this gives rise of disagreements and arguments leading to disputes.
With changing times and changing dynamics of the society, the frequency, magnitude and nature of disputes have undergone unprecedented changes. With the increase in trade and commerce, disputes at the business level are increasing and with the changing attitude of people towards harmony, civil disputes are increasing.
What are Legal Disputes?
Legal Disputes refer to disputes between/amongst two or more parties on a question of fact or law. Such disputes require the application of legal knowledge and are thus resolved with the help of lawyers and courts.
Disputes can arise as a result of violation or breach of someone’s rights, non-fulfilment of a duty, conflicting interests of the parties etc. For example, disputes over division of property is a result of conflicting interests of the parties while disputes regarding payment of compensation or damages for non-performance of a contract is a result of non-fulfilment of a duty.
In layman terms, legal disputes are matters which are taken to the court for resolution as the parties are neither fully equipped with the knowledge on the issue nor they can resolve it between/amongst themselves. Litigation has been the most common and universal method of dispute resolution. All the countries have their own judicial system to resolve the disputes arising within their territory. There are some international forums as well to resolve disputes involving two Sovereign entities or nationals of two different countries, like the International Court of Justice.
Legal Disputes are categorised as civil or criminal. Civil disputes are those which involve civilians and include matters which are usually not illegal. Such disputes include family disputes, property disputes, etc. Criminal disputes are those which involve the commission of a crime which is recognised as a punishable offence. Accordingly, the procedure for resolution of disputes in the courts is governed by procedural laws like Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 in India.
History of Legal Disputes:
In ancient times, the disputes were mainly regarding the property, the share of property during partition, the encroachment of someone’s land etc. Some cases were also related to offences like theft. As the times changes and society developed, the behaviour, mindset, needs, wants, greed, desires of man also went through a tremendous change. The nature of the legal disputes has been changing and will keep on so happening. With the trade of goods and services amongst nations rising at an unprecedented rate and geographical boundaries becoming mere imaginary lines, the nature of disputes is becoming complex involving a huge number of stakeholders.
Resolution of Legal Disputes:
Legal Disputes are generally resolved in a court of law wherein the process is known as litigation. In India, one of the organs of the Government – the Judiciary consists of the Supreme Court at the central level, High Courts at the state level and District and other sub-ordinate courts at the district level. Also, there are several quasi-judicial bodies in the form of Tribunals to resolve disputes related to a certain filed, like National Green Tribunal for resolving environment-related disputes and violations, National Company Law Tribunal for disputes regarding companies and Company Law, Debt Recovery Tribunal for recovery of debts owed by individuals and partnership firms and many more.
However, litigation as the method for resolving disputes was introduced in India under British Rule. Before that, since the system of Princes and Princely States prevailed, the disputes were resolved by the respective kings in their courts with the help of the educated and knowledgeable people. Likewise, in the village, the Panchayat system prevailed which resolved the disputes involving people from their villages. In the family’s disputes, the elders used to mediate. The disputes arising in the course of business, trade or commerce used to be resolved by the customs and usages of the same.
Over the years, with the judiciary being over-burdened and litigation being an expensive, time-consuming and technical process, the need for alternate dispute resolution mechanisms has been on the rise. Such methods include arbitration, conciliation, mediation. These mechanisms are aimed at cost-effective resolution of disputes in a timely fashion with better participation of parties and a win-win situation for all.
It is noteworthy to understand that not all kinds of disputes could be resolved out of the courts. No one can or ever will solve a murder case out of the court. One has to get a court’s decree confirming the divorce to get it. Until and unless the court passes the liquidation order, a company cannot be liquidated. It is mainly the petty or easily resolvable matters like property disputes, commercial disputes, etc which are resolved out of the courts.
This article is authored by Jhanvi Gupta, Third-Year, B.A. LL.B student at Symbiosis Law School, Pune.
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