Many businesses resolve their disputes before they reach litigation. But occasionally, a business cannot resolve its dispute with a vendor, customer, employee, or shareholder without the assistance of the courts.
Business owners will usually turn to litigation when there is an irreconcilable disagreement over the facts of the case or the law that applies to those facts. A lawsuit is the most common way to resolve that disagreement.
Here are the things you should know about what happens when you take a business dispute to court.
Expect a Long Process
Courts have taken many steps to try to speed up the process of litigation. Judges issue scheduling orders early in the case to set out the major deadlines for the case. Magistrates resolve minor disputes that arise during litigation to free up judges. Legal rules try to keep meritless cases from clogging up the courts, too.
But litigation can still take a long time. Every lawsuit is different, but you should expect to take at least one to two years to resolve a lawsuit fully. Court closures and the inability to hold jury trials during the COVID-19 pandemic created a backlog that might add even more time to your case.
Expect to Testify
In a criminal trial, lawyers can get relevant evidence excluded and witnesses can opt out of testifying. But in civil cases, judges provide a lot of leeway in gathering and presenting evidence.
Under both the federal and Florida rules of civil procedure, a party can pursue any information that is relevant to a case. Parties can also pursue any information that can be reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence. This applies even if the information used to gather the admissible evidence would not be admissible in court.
As a result, expect to produce all documents, electronically stored data, and other kinds of information that relate to the case. Except for privileged documents and discussions, expect to have the other party dig through all of your company’s records that are pertinent to the dispute. Lastly, you should expect to testify in a deposition and at trial.
Expect Many Opportunities to Settle
Most lawsuits do not reach trial. This happens for a few reasons. As the parties exchange documents and take depositions, the facts uncovered might convince one or both parties that their case is not as airtight as they once thought. Sometimes, litigation fatigue sets in, even for litigants who started the case with every intention of going all the way.
But oftentimes, cases are settled because the litigation process provides ample opportunities to discuss settlement. The parties might authorize their lawyers to discuss settlement informally after a deposition or a hearing. The court will also order the parties to attend mediation or conduct a settlement conference. At each of these points, the parties might find some middle ground and resolve the case.
Expect to Hire a Lawyer
Both federal and Florida state courts require an entity, like a corporation or limited liability company, to be represented by a lawyer in court. In other words, an entity cannot represent itself in court.
Hiring an experienced business litigation attorney could make an enormous difference in the outcome of your case. Business litigation requires an understanding of the way that businesses operate and how to achieve an efficient outcome for the company that protects its bottom line and growth. Business disputes can also require knowledge of and experience in many fields of law. Some examples include:
- Business formation
- Shareholder and partner disputes
- Employment disputes
- Trade secrets and proprietary information
Whether the dispute arises with a former employee, joint venture partner, acquisition target, or supplier, having experienced business counsel to represent the company before and during litigation is essential.
Contact The Frazer Firm
The Frazer Firm has extensive business litigation experience. To discuss the legal options for your business dispute, contact us to schedule a consultation.
The State of Florida does not require business owners to have a written operating agreement for their limited liability companies…