What Should You Expect in Business Litigation?
When confronted with a legal dispute in your professional life, you will need to carefully weigh all the options available to you. Business owners spend their day-to-day maintaining relationships with vendors, clients, employees, contractors and business partners. These relationships are integral to a business running smoothly. Because of the breadth of relationships involved in running a business, it is probable that a legal dispute will eventually rear its head. If and when it does, be sure to hire a lawyer that can tell you what your various courses of actions may be. Having a good lawyer will help you avoid unnecessary strain, or wasting time and money on the problem. You may even be able to settle the dispute outside of court with mediation and arbitration. In this article we will lay out the pros and cons of your legal options.
When a side files a lawsuit and proceeds through the official court system, it is called litigation. After filing the case and gathering evidence, the parties will proceed to trial, where a judge or jury will hear each side’s arguments and examine the evidence. After that, the court makes a judgment that may award the plaintiff some, all, or none of the requested financial reward. Due to this unknowing, both a plaintiff and defendant run a risk at trial. A plaintiff may end up with nothing after the trial despite paying significant legal costs. The cost of business litigation can be high, with filing fees, attorneys’ fees, among other costs. If you are the defendant and you lose the trial, you will be required to pay the plaintiff the full amount requested as well as their legal fees. If one side is behaving out of line, the court may require them to pay the other party’s fees for their poor form.
You may find yourself in a situation in which litigation is your best and only route for protecting your legal rights. For instance, if a plaintiff is making slanderous claims against your business, you may need to go to trial to protect your reputation and financial interests. Or, when a defendant will not settle or negotiate, this can force you into a trial. These are severe circumstances, of course. In less severe scenarios it is very possible to reach an agreement that saves both parties time, money, and stress.
Mediation is when a trained and objective third party is hired to assist both parties in negotiating a settlement outside of court. This process may be supervised and arranged by the court. Mediation’s purpose is to establish a compromise that all sides can live with, although it may not be exactly what either wanted. One of the advantages of mediation over having the decision made by a court is that the parties have greater influence over the parameters of the discussion and cannot be compelled to accept an offer they do not like.
Mediation can be more efficient time and money-wise. It helps the parties involved avoid going through the court system and being subject to the rules and often drawn out timeline of litigation. Mediation is usually especially beneficial in helping to maintain the relationship in question, but it may not serve one side well if there is a power imbalance between the parties.
Arbitration, like litigation, begins with parties submitting their arguments and evidence to the arbiter, who then makes informed conclusions on the matter. The parties decide whether the arbitrator’s judgements are binding, and if they are the parties must commit to the decision. If the arbitrator’s decision is non-binding, the parties are able to ignore it as it is simply a suggestion. Arbitration goes through a private judge who is able to expedite the case, saving each party time and money.