Situation: A company has a long-term client that stopped a project suddenly 6 weeks ago with no explanation. Later, the client called saying that they do not intend to pay for work completed to date. Would you pursue either arbitration or injunctive relief to settle this dispute?
Advice from the CEOs:
- If you have evidence of acceptance of a project contract or other documentation that the work proceeded under agreement with the client, this strengthens your position.
- There may be other circumstances of which you are unaware such as financial or cash flow difficulties. Inquire through discrete channels to clarify this. Knowledge of the inside situation provides leverage as you negotiate a settlement.
- Do you want to retain this client? If they have been valuable over the years this may just be the behavior of a single individual. If this is the case, work with your key contacts to bring this situation to light and try to solve the problem without legal action.
- Because you have a long-term relationship with the client, focus your communications on the President rather than the VP who shut down the project.
- Established your documentation, and complete your research on whether the client has cash flow problems; then call the President to work out an amiable resolution.
- While you are justified in feeling miffed about the situation, business is business, and in this case it appears that your long-term relationship and the value of the ongoing business with the client outweigh the emotion of the present situation.
- Focus on resolution of the dispute between the parties and do everything possible to resolve it between the companies rather than through legal avenues. This will help preserve the relationship with the client. Provided that you continue with this client, clean up the portion of the contract specifying notification and acceptance requirements and other areas of the contract that require attention.