If the other party genuinely is your enemy something has to change. You need to resign yourself to the expensive, time consuming roll of the dice known as litigation or the other party must cease being your enemy. If you’d like to avoid litigation, here are some things to think about when considering the relationship between the parties.

In an article in Psychology Today the issue of relationships and properly recognizing and labelling them is discussed. The authors came up with these definitions,

  • Enemy: someone who cannot be trusted under any circumstances. They will work against your interests no matter your behavior.
  • Adversary: one who works against your interests to advance their own self-interests.
  • Ally: an adversary whose self-interest changes and aligns with yours.
  • Friend: someone who has your unconditional trust.

The authors state it’s a waste of time to try to turn an enemy into a friend but an adversary may become an ally. In the context of a lawsuit if the opposing party truly is an enemy and the main purpose of the litigation is revenge or a means to inflict pain on your client it’s normally a waste of time to try to negotiate with someone who’s that irrational. There needs to be some level of trust for a case to settle and without trust there is no resolution short of litigation.

In most cases the other party is an adversary. At the start of the litigation the interests of the parties are in conflict and the lawsuit is the means by which the conflict is resolved. Through negotiation or mediation how a party’s self-interest is viewed or interpreted may change. Something what was a priority in the past (obtaining a lot of money or avoiding paying a lot of money) is no longer as important while other self-interests gain importance (avoiding the many costs of litigation and eliminating the risk of losing the case).

Is the Other Party Your Enemy or Friend?

There are many instances of this happening,

  • During the Korean War Chinese and American troops fought and killed each other. Now China is North Korea’s ally and South Korea is an ally of the United States. But the United States and China have acted as allies to a limited extent to try to avoid an armed conflict on the Korean peninsula because it would not be in the interests of either country if another war broke out.
  • At the time this was written Ted Cruz and John Kasich, adversaries as they both try to get the same job (President of the United States), have stated they would work together in their common interest and try to deny the Republican nomination to Donald Trump. However, upon determining that they could not win, they backed off on this rhetoric.

If the party at the other end of the table or the telephone is an adversary in litigation there is hope the two sides will become allies long enough to settle the case. If an enemy is on the other side prepare for the long haul.