Last of three parts.
Q: What methods can I use to resolve disagreements with an independent contractor?
A: An independent contractor (IC) is one who agrees with a buyer to provide goods or services for pay in a nonemployment (also known as freelance) relationship.
Ideally in an IC agreement both parties deliver and receive what was agreed upon. However, in the event one or both believe there was a gap between the formation of the contract and its performance, there is a disagreement. There can be a difference between what was agreed in the contract documentation, be it digital or paper, and what one or both sides expected. As the performance of a contract plays out, differences can emerge from the perception of one or both sides.
General methods of handling IC disagreements can be summarized as negotiation, alternative dispute resolution and the court system.
There are resources on negotiation in the market of business advice literature such as finding common ground, avoiding burning bridges and conflict settlement. As to arbitration, if an IC agreement includes language calling for disagreements to proceed through arbitration or mediation, then the general rule is that this method takes priority over going to court. Alternative dispute resolution includes mediation and arbitration.
In mediation, parties in disagreement discuss their dispute points with a neutral mediator who makes no decision on the dispute and instead helps build a way for the parties to work out a settlement through their own efforts.
Arbitration is often binding and there a qualified arbitrator will follow a process much like a judge would at a trial, except it would not be in the public court system, often is faster, and would leave no public record of any results of the arbitration hearing.
Should going to court be the disagreement resolution method selected, there's an informative resource on the Minnesota Judicial Branch's website titled "Civil Actions."
Parties in a court system dispute can either proceed pro se (for yourself), or hire a lawyer to represent the buyer or IC's interests in a disagreement.
John Del Vecchio has been operating a general practice, solo law office since 1988 and is on faculty at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.