Legal System

Five Reasons to Try to Reach an Agreement and Avoid Going to Court

The Regulation respecting the mediation and arbitration of small claims came into force on November 23, 2023. This article is currently being revised to reflect the new rules included in this regulation.


Separation of a couple, a dispute between neighbours, failure to respect a contract… conflicts can occur in many ways. Our first reflex may be to go to court, but that’s not the only option, and it may not be the best. Here are five reasons to try to reach an agreement and avoid going to court.

1 – Avoiding hefty costs

A trial can be long and costly. Other options may be more affordable, and some are entirely free. These “alternative means of dispute resolution” include negotiation, mediation, conciliation and arbitration.

For example, couples who separate often have the right to a certain number of hours of free mediation.

2 – Resolving a dispute more quickly

Some of these alternatives to going to court can be started without any formal procedures. This can lead to a solution more quickly than going to court. This is notably the case for negotiation. It simply involves a discussion with the other person to try to reach an agreement.

3 – Reaching a compromise

Trials can go well but can also go very badly! The judgement may go entirely against you.

These alternatives to going to court typically put the people involved in the dispute at the heart of the process. They are directly involved in seeking a satisfactory solution.

This helps them to focus on what they need to settle the dispute. This could be, for example, an apology, a handshake, or recognition of harm suffered.

4 – Maintaining good relations

Don’t forget that, even if you win on every point in court, your neighbour will still be… your neighbour! Settling a dispute through mediation or negotiation can help preserve good relations.

5 – Respecting the law

By law, you must “consider” alternative means of dispute resolution before going to court.

“Consider” in this context means you must carefully examine all options that could help settle the dispute without going to court. You have to look for a solution that suits the particular situation, and it may be more appropriate than a courtroom trial.

Lawyers and notaries can inform and advise you on the different ways to resolve a conflict.

Don’t hesitate to consult them!