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Negotiation is when you try to end a problem or dispute with another person, by reaching an agreement.
The first step to negotiating is to think about how you would like to settle (resolve) the dispute, what you think the other party would accept and then suggest a settlement to the other party.
If you were involved in a car accident, you can negotiate by talking to the other party, or by writing a letter, or both. If the other party is insured and made a claim on their insurance policy, you should negotiate with their insurer. If the other party has a lawyer, you should speak to the lawyer rather than directly to the other party.
Negotiation can take place at any time. You can negotiate about who was at fault, how much damage was caused and when payment will be made.
If you need help negotiating with the other party, you should consider whether to try mediation. This is where an independent third party can assist you and the other party to discuss your issues and hopefully come to an agreement. For more information, see Mediation.
Written correspondence with settlement offers, like letters, emails or faxes usually have the words 'Without prejudice' written at the top. This means that the information in these documents cannot be used against you in a court hearing.
You should write ‘Without Prejudice’ on the top of any letter or email containing an offer to settle that you send to the other party if you do not want any of your negotiations to be used against you in court.
Sometimes you should not write 'Without prejudice' on the top of a letter. For example, if you decide to go to court you may want to show that you made an offer to settle.
Before you write a letter of offer, you should get legal advice on how to write the letter.
Although negotiating with the other party can very informal, if you are able to reach an agreement, you can write down what has been agreed. For more information, see Put it in writing.
For more help negotiating with the other party, see the Negotiation section of the Legal skills topic.