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I started a claim against someone. The level of court does not require lawyers. The defendant rejected all my claims through the court, but contacted me by email saying he wishes to meet in person to discuss them. My initial reaction is this is a bad idea, but I'm wondering if there's any legal reason why I shouldn't meet with him?

One of the reasons I found it necessary to take legal action in the first place, was he refused to talk to me and said he blocked my messages. I guess now he's unblocked me. In the past he's done tricks where he pretends to give me an option, but then a short time latter says since I never replied he assumes I want to do x. I don't want him to be able to use any of these arguments in court. If I don't meet or reply to his email, can he then say I'm refusing to negotiate? He is a very dishonest person.

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No, it’s not bad

In fact it can do a great deal of good. It’s entirely possible that you will negotiate a settlement that is better for both of you than court.

Negotiations undertaken in such circumstances are inadmissible in court - the legal term is without prejudice. The reasoning is that is good public policy for parties to be able to resolve disputes without needing a court and that they should be free to make admissions, concessions and offers without the threat that these will be used against them if they do need to go to court.

Be careful about accusing people of things like ‘dishonesty’

First, interpretation of other people’s behaviour depends a lot on where you stand. If you are in dispute with someone you are likely to attribute motives to them that may not be there or may not be apparent to a more detached observer. For example, offers can be withdrawn at any time prior to their acceptance - doing so is not “dishonest”.

Second, (dis)honesty is a question of fact, not opinion, and it involves more than whether someone is always truthful - people can tell falsehoods and still be honest. Stating that someone is dishonest when you can’t prove that they are, in fact, dishonest is defamation.

  • I had an experience where the parties were required to attend facilitated negotiation. Before the the parties met, the facilitator advised me to settle for only the top two claims that were very certain to prevail if the judge orders a decision. Why would I agree to this? If it's (almost certain) why wouldn't I take my chances with the rest of the claims, so to speak? – dutyanalysing Aug 8 at 22:37
  • @dutyanalysing because it’s likely that that’s all you’ll get and litigation costs a lot of money even if you win. Dispute resolution is about resolving the dispute- “winning” is for sports. – Dale M Aug 9 at 1:18
  • However the prevailing party will be reimbursed their costs – dutyanalysing Aug 9 at 9:45
  • Normally the successful party is awarded costs but not always, particularly if reasonable settlement offers were refused. In any event the costs awarded are at court rates which are about 50-60% of actual legal fees and don’t pay anything for your personal time and effort. Further, many small claims courts do not award costs. – Dale M Aug 9 at 15:24
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Is it bad to have communication with opposing party outside of court?

Communication outside the court is not necessarily a bad idea. However, it is in your best interest to ensure that those communications be always in writing or --subject to any consent rules that may apply in your jurisdiction-- recorded. That is especially recommendable if you have reasons to distrust the opposing party.

Taking that precaution will help you disprove the opposing party's allegations if he (1) falsely accuses you later on; (2) obfuscates the controversy with "I said, he said" in a way that impairs the court's task of fact-finding and/or of identifying whether a settlement had been reached in the negotiations; or (3) disavows the terms of the settlement you two reached.

  • I had an experience where the parties were required to attend facilitated negotiation. Before the the parties met, the facilitator advised me to settle for only the top two claims that were very certain to prevail if the judge orders a decision. Why would I agree to this? If it's (almost certain) why wouldn't I take my chances with the rest of the claims, so to speak? – dutyanalysing Aug 8 at 22:37
  • @dutyanalysing I'm surprised the facilitator advised you at all (due to possible issues of facilitator's neutrality). Regardless, there's not enough information for me/us to make sense of that suggestion. During the negotiation(s) the facilitator might have learned additional information (from you or the adversary) that is not reflected here. – Iñaki Viggers Aug 9 at 10:24

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