This article is written by Komal Shah, Content Head, iPleaders.
“I will see you in court.” Aarav said with his finger raised at his reflection, in the full sized mirror in his room. He had been practising this phrase,for days. He wanted to be able to say this to Suyash, his publicly declared friend and privately accepted nemesis. Aarav and Suyash had been arch rivals since they were kids. They were fiercely competitive in education, sports, popularity with the girls, and later on, with their respective business.
Determined to make Suyash pay for his deeds, Aarav took out his car keys to approach Suyash and let him know that he will resort to necessary legal recourse against him. Suddenly a name came to his mind. Neha. Neha Sharma. Why hadn’t he thought of her before?
Neha – was the link that had kept him and Suyash together. She was the one who had always been their best friend – the third musketeer. Seven years back, when Aarav and Suyash had started their own businesses while in college, it was Neha who had suggested Suyash to supply the necessary software, to Aarav for his data analysis firm. Then she had gone off to study law somewhere and they’d lost touch. A couple of years back, Aarav had heard that she had finally got married and settled somewhere, possibly in Pune.
He closed the car door but didn’t start the car. ‘Neha Sharma’ he googled and her LinkedIn profile came up. Wow, she was a lawyer now! Once he had tracked her, Aarav couldn’t wait. He quickly tracked her firm’s number and dialled it.
“Hello”, came the calm settled voice from the other end. That was the Neha he remembered, calm and collected. She never panicked, despite being younger to both Aarav and Suyash. Crazy projects, demanding assignments, nothing seemed to derail her. “Hi Neha, how are you?” he rambled. “Aarav? Long time. How did you get my number?” She recognized his voice. Incredible memory, thought Aarav.
“Listen, Neha, I can’t discuss this on phone. I’m in a….in a situation here. Are you likely to come to Mumbai in the next few days? I need to talk to you.” There was silence at the other end for a while. Then, “It’s your day” came the reply. “In fact, I am going to be there tomorrow to meet a client. Same place? 2PM?” Aarav couldn’t believe his luck.
The Barista wasn’t crowded. 2PM was a low crowd time. Aarav sat waiting eagerly. He looked at his watch and looked at the door. There she was. Punctuality was her way, even in the college days.
Some small talk later, Aarav explained to her that Suyash had purposely supplied him software, laden with some bugs and then taken time to fix it. Thus giving his competitor an opportunity to launch a new product faster than him. Suyash must have come to know what they were working on, through an employee and might even have tipped off the competitor.
Aarav was really angry. He told her how he had got legal proceedings initiated against Suyash and was now going to have him pay. “Oh no!” exclaimed Neha. She took a minute to digest everything. And then she calmly reminded him that this was bound to happen after his recent interview wherein, he claimed all the credit for the product, without even acknowledging the software developed by Suyash’s company at all. Aarav went into deep thoughts. It was true. His competitive bent of mind had taken over at that time of the interview. He wanted to show the one upmanship over Suyash, whose interview had been published in a second level newspaper, a couple of weeks prior.
“Can you do something?” urged Aarav. “I want to withdraw the legal proceedings and make amends to Suyash. But I do want him to realise that what he did was not right. You have always brought us together. You are a lawyer now, can you help?”
Neha agreed and asked for the contract between the two friends’ entities. Aarav didn’t have it on him. So he got her a soft copy via email. Neha noted that there was no arbitration clause in the contract. That’s poor drafting, she thought. She explained to Aarav what was missing. Then she explained to him how they could still proceed, and appoint an arbitrator to resolve the issue. This would also avoid the needless publicity. “Will Suyash agree?” asked Aarav. “Leave that to me” said Neha.
Unlike Aarav, Suyash had kept in touch with Neha. But,he hadn’t discussed this issue with her. Neha sent a message to Suyash and told him she was near his office and wanted to drop down to meet him. “Of course. What a pleasant surprise!” was Suyash’s quick response.
When she reached, Suyash got up from his chair and greeted her. “Hey Neha, what a surprise!” he said and pointed to a chair. After catching up on each other’s lives, Neha got to the reason for her visit. Neha told him everything about her meeting with Aarav. “He is genuinely sorry, Suyash. But don’t you think you owe him an apology too? You cost his business a good deal.” Neha tried to bring him in the handshake mode. “Yes, and now I have to face the law”, said Suyash.
Then Neha explained that there was another way to resolve the issue. She told him that all they needed to do was, to tell the court that they want to refer the matter to arbitration. It will be less gruesome and publicised. Suyash agreed. And so it happened.
The friends did get back together, with Aarav openly acknowledging Suyash’s contribution in a magazine interview. Suyash helped make good some losses which Aarav had incurred, by providing advanced software for free. Neha just united them, and silently left towards Pune.
Can you imagine yourself in Neha’s position? Do you see yourself as a natural conflict resolver? Do you believe you can make people make peace and not war? Time to sharpen up your skills then. You can learn the much needed skills for arbitration proceedings. You can learn it all from strategizing to drafting and the entire procedure.
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