Facing business litigation can be daunting, regardless of whether you are the plaintiff or defendant. Still, how a business handles a dispute and prepares for litigation can factor into the outcome of their case. Below are some do’s and don’ts businesses can employ when preparing for a potential court date.
Generally speaking, businesses planning to go to court should talk with a business attorney who does litigation. It is a common assumption that all lawyers go to court, but this is not true, particularly in the business world, where they often focus on drafting contracts, structuring deals, and drawing up formation papers. Litigators often are brought in to review the case and determine if there are grounds for a lawsuit.
Doing these can help build a strong case:
- Keep accurate records and document all transactions with invoices, contracts, emails, and other documentation. This lends the business credibility if there is a dispute over details regarding timing, amounts, prices, and other things.
- Assuming the business hired an attorney, it is essential to communicate regularly and be responsive to their requests. It may seem distracting, but they are working in the business’s best interests.
- Check insurance policies to determine if it covers the litigation issue.
- They will ask but allow the attorney to review the contract to ensure a clear interpretation of the agreement.
Doing these can make matters worse:
- Ignoring legal notices will not make them go away. Good news or bad, each notice should be dealt with by the business and its attorney as soon as possible.
- Do not discuss the case with others outside the business. Anything said or written can be held against the company, so it is better to work with an attorney who enjoys confidentiality privileges that they need not divulge unless ordered by the court.
- Do not take it personally or make emotional decisions. Legal issues are not a personal attack.
- Do not engage in delay tactics. Judges can see through deception, and not meeting realistic deadlines does not reflect well on the team.
Each dispute is different, and outcomes will vary depending on the facts of the case, a judge’s interpretation or the negotiation of an out-of-court settlement. The outcome could involve financial damages, meeting contractual obligations or voiding the contract. Whatever the desired result, it is best to be prepared.