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What are my options to settle without going to court?

Reviewed by
Nov 4, 2021

For people who are considering suing someone or who have already started a lawsuit, the most common options for settling out of court include:

Civil Resolution Tribunal

For disputes less than $5000, you can settle online using the Civil Resolution Tribunal

  • The online tool provides an opportunity to settle a dispute without going to court. Both parties use the online platform to communicate and work through their issues.

Demand letters

  • A demand letter is a formal letter that demands the other person (or corporation) performs a legal obligation, such as fixing a problem, paying a sum of money, or honoring a contract. The letter describes the agreement between parties and gives the recipient a chance to fix the issue without being taken to court. See a sample demand letter.

Negotiate a settlement

  • Negotiation is when the parties try to come to a resolution by discussing the issues.
  • You can negotiate by sending letters or by having a settlement meeting.
  • One form of negotiation is mediation.


  • Mediation is when a third party helps you and the other person to negotiate and reach agreement. Professional mediators are trained to help resolve legal disputes. Mediators do not take sides and they don’t decide the case. They are neutral.
  • Mediation is especially helpful when both parties have an ongoing relationship with each other. Court cases can damage relationships. Mediation builds understanding between you and the other person.
  • For more about mediation, see the Ministry of Justice’s Guide to Mediation in BC.
  • To find a qualified mediator in BC, use the MediateBC website.


  • Arbitration is a settlement option where you and the other person in dispute select an arbitrator to resolve your dispute. The arbitrator is an impartial person who examines the facts of the dispute. The arbitrator can then decide a dispute much the way a judge would do in a court. Arbitrators may be trained in the law, or have other expertise relevant to the dispute. The ADR of British Columbia provides a directory of arbitrators that you can search.

Collection Agency

  • A collection agency is a business that pursues payments on debts owed to you or your business. Most collection agencies operate as agents and collect debts for a fee or percentage of the total amount owed from you. The main advantage of hiring a collection agency is that it becomes their job to reach the other person and obtain the money they owe you.