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Navigating a dispute-free holiday season: practical tips for businesses

The festive season brings joy and celebration, but for many businesses, it can also present unique challenges that, if not managed carefully, can increase the likelihood of disputes. 

In this Solutions update, Dispute Partners Jamie McConnell and Huw Wallis, explore proactive strategies to reduce the risk of litigation over the holiday season for your business.  From clear communication to anticipating potential issues, this pragmatic insight is designed to help navigate the difficulties that may arise during the holiday period and help maintain positive relationships with clients, customers, and partners.

1. Clear communication – is key with clients, customers, service providers and suppliers.  It is essential to proactively provide details of holiday operating hours, the potential implications of reduced availability and the potential disruption to service provision.

2. Forewarning is forearmed – review your contracts and be aware of any obligations that fall before, during or immediately after the holiday season.  It’s rarely possible to complete everything before the holiday season starts, so taking proactive steps will reduce the risk of unwanted issues arising.

3. Don’t overpromise – set realistic expectations regarding deadlines, response times, delivery dates, and service levels over the festive period.  Being open and upfront about what is achievable in advance will help manage expectations and avoid misunderstandings.

4. Share your holiday policy – clearly communicate any business closures or variations to your business operations in a timely fashion. Not only does this avoid misunderstandings, but, where necessary, it enables any variations and/or alternative arrangements to be agreed upon. 

5. Document any agreed changes in writing – if variations, exceptions or alternative arrangements are required during the holidays, ensure they are communicated in writing and any agreement documented.  This helps avoid any subsequent misunderstanding and may well need to be relied upon if an issue or dispute subsequently materialises. 

6. Have a backup plan – have a contingency plan for unexpected events, such as staff shortages or disruptions in the supply chain.  Having a plan in place, and being able to manage the expectations of others, can prevent last-minute issues that may lead to disputes.

7. Be vigilant – someone in the business should be responsible for guarding against litigation risk over the holiday period, including keeping an eye on incoming correspondence.  Our previous festive update, An early Christmas present? (still very valid), will help with more tips for this.

8. Early legal advice – if an issue arises, or there’s a risk of an issue potentially arising, or you simply have cause to be concerned, seek legal advice as soon as possible.  We frequently assist clients in proactively addressing potential issues before they escalate into disputes.  And, where possible, dispute prevention is always far better than dispute resolution! 

With the above advice in mind, please note that our offices will close on Friday, 22 December 2023, at 1pm and will reopen on Tuesday, 2 January 2024, to afford our teams a well deserved break.  However, should any urgent issues arise – and we appreciate that even the most organised and proactive businesses cannot eradicate the risk of litigation over the holiday season – we are always happy to help.  Please get in touch with the Head of Disputes, Huw Wallis.


Greenwoods Legal LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership, registered in England, registered number OC306912. Our registered office is Queens House, 55-56 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3LJ. A list of the members’ names is available for inspection at our offices in Peterborough, Cambridge and London. Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, SRA number 401162. Details of the Solicitors’ Codes of Conduct can be found at All instructions accepted by Greenwoods Legal LLP are subject to our current Terms of Business. VAT Reg No: 161 9287 89.

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