Preparing for Business Litigation
June 8, 2022
If you’re doing business, it’s not unusual to run into disputes with other businesses or individuals, whether customers, clients, partners, suppliers, contractors, or other competing enterprises. Your initial response will probably be to attempt to resolve disputes through negotiation to avoid the cost, public exposure, and time involved in litigation.
If those negotiations fail to lead to a resolution, however, litigation may well ensue, and some of the efforts you expend during negotiations may even become fodder for the other side to use against you in court.
Thus, it is always important to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable business litigation attorney whenever a dispute rears its ugly head and poses challenges you may not be able to handle on your own. One false step in negotiations can come back to haunt you in the courtroom.
If your business is facing a lawsuit in or around Irvine or Newport Beach, California, or anywhere in the counties of Orange, Los Angeles, or San Diego, contact William B. Hanley, Attorney at Law, immediately. William B. Hanley, Attorney at Law, has more than four decades’ experience in aggressively representing businesses in a variety of legal challenges. He will work closely with you to fight for the best possible outcome.
Causes of Business Disputes and Litigation
When it comes to business disputes, breach of contract is one of the top sources of litigation. Your business may be accused of failing to live up to your part of a bargain as a business or individual, or the other party to the contract may have let you down. Even partners in a business can fall sway to breach of contract contests.
Other causes of business litigation include but are not limited to:
Nondisclosure and trade secret violations
Commercial real estate disputes
Equipment lease disputes
Product defect litigation
Loan disputes and lender liability claims
Insurance coverage disputes
In addition, a business in California can run into lawsuits initiated by employees. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) lists five areas for potential employee lawsuits: independent contractor misclassification, off-the-clock work, overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, and wage statements. California is an employee-friendly state, and its Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) allows employees to sue on behalf of themselves and other employees.
How to Prepare for Business Litigation: Tips and Pitfalls
You, as a business owner or manager, might feel you can resolve a dispute by shaking hands with your disputant and resolve things over a cup of coffee or something stronger. However, you may say or reveal something that can come back to haunt you if matters do end up in court.
That’s why the most essential tip in handling disputes is to involve a business litigation attorney, so you can potentially avoid litigation and at the same time prevent saying, writing, or doing something that can be used against you if there is future litigation.
Therefore, here are some vital tips to follow if you’re involved in a dispute that can lead to litigation or if you’re being sued and feel you must interact with the other party. Your best choice is to leave interactions to your attorney, but keep these axioms in mind:
KEEP ORAL AND WRITTEN COMMUNICATIONS TO A MINIMUM: Anything you put in writing, even emails or text messages, can be admissible as evidence in a court of law. As part of the discovery process, you will be required to produce these documents or messages. Also, if you talk about the dispute with those who are not owners or officers of your company, those people can be called upon as witnesses. Employees testifying in court may reveal things you never meant for public consumption.
PRESERVE EVIDENCE: If you have documents, including emails, that relate to the case and you destroy them, even if unintentionally, you can be subject to what is called “adverse inference.” This means that it will be presumed that you destroyed the evidence because it was damaging and could be used against you.
DON’T ADMIT ANY PART OF BEING AT FAULT: As part of negotiations, you may think it wise to say something like, “Well, admittedly,” but that “confession” can and probably will be used against you by the other party in court.
DON’T MAKE AGGRESSIVE OR NASTY STATEMENTS: Likewise, you may feel the other party needs to hear how you actually feel, so you make an aggressive statement. This can resurface during litigation to your detriment.
UNDERSTAND ATTORNEY/CLIENT PRIVILEGE: What you and your attorney discuss in private is considered privileged and cannot be subject to the discovery process. However, if a third party is present or a third party later receives a copy of the communication, then it is no longer privileged and can be subject to discovery.
Rely on Legal Counsel You Can Trust
Pitfalls abound when a business dispute arises. It’s best to get the advice and counsel of an experienced business litigation attorney before you say or do something that can jeopardize your case should matters go to court.
If you’re in the Southern California area, including the counties of Orange, San Diego, and Los Angeles, contact William B. Hanley, Attorney at Law. He will listen to your story, advise you on how best to proceed, and even handle interactions with the other party, so reach out today.