Corporate litigation will be a momentous event in the lifecycle of any business. Chances are that you are facing high stakes in your dispute. Some disagreements can even threaten the future of your company. However, corporate litigation does not always have to be a game with winners and losers.
Both parties can also compromise to reach the best possible result. You need legal counsel during any kind of business controversy. You should always turn to a corporate litigator to protect your interests and represent you.
While all litigation requires experience and skill, corporate litigation tends to be even more complex. These lawsuits often result from a longstanding relationship that has soured or a sudden rupture in business dealings. These cases tend to involve a lot of money. The result can make a big difference for you or your business.
Different Types of Corporate Litigation
Here are some examples of different types of corporate litigation:
- Breach of contract cases, where there is a dispute over the contract's language or the fact that one or both parties have failed to perform under the terms of the contract.
- Business torts, when one business accuses another of wrongdoing, usually concerning competition or illegal hiring of employees
- Partnership disputes, when one or more partners disagree or claim that the others breached the partnership agreement. The dispute can even lead to the dissolution of the partnership
- Minority shareholder rights and disputes, when the minority shareholder claims that the controlling shareholder is infringing on their rights or trying to freeze them out of the business
- Misappropriation of trade secrets, where a business alleges that the other wrongfully took protected information
- Breach of fiduciary duty cases, when one party accuses another of abusing a relationship of trust by either failing to take due care or placing their interests ahead of those of the trust
Regardless of the type of litigation involved, you can expect a difficult process. The other party may do everything that they can to protect themselves.
Your Attorney Will Advise You on Legal Strategies
When you are involved in a dispute, there are many strategies that you can pursue. The right legal strategy depends on your situation. Your corporate litigation attorney will advise you based on their experience and knowledge of your particular situation.
A corporate litigator will review the necessary facts to help you determine your path forward. You will likely need a primary strategy, as well as other options, if you have to switch to another plan. Business disputes can change rapidly. You cannot control how the other party will react and behave.
Sometimes, you must act quickly to ask a court to prevent imminent and further harm. Then, you will seek an injunction or other equitable remedy from the court. In other cases, the other party may take the case to court early in the process, and you are at the mercy of the court’s timing.
You Might Avoid Litigation Entirely
Your attorney may advise you that trying to resolve the situation without litigation will benefit your situation. Often, parties only file a lawsuit after other attempts to solve the problem have failed.
One of the first things your attorney may do is speak with the attorney representing the other party to the dispute. Some disagreements result from a misunderstanding and are relatively easy to resolve with neutral representatives.
In other cases, you can negotiate a resolution with the other party. You might reach a supplemental agreement that settles your dispute. The attorneys can exchange and discuss their clients’ viewpoints, and you can resolve the situation as amicably as possible.
For example, the lawyers might negotiate modifying an existing agreement that settles the controversy. They might draft an entirely new agreement that contains additional terms. For example, the attorneys might draft a licensing agreement if there is a dispute over intellectual property.
The dispute may take more effort to resolve, even without litigation. One common tactic that your attorney may advise you to use is mediation. Both attorneys may present their viewpoints to a third-party neutral who will help the two sides talk to each other.
The mediator may highlight points of agreement while helping the two parties bridge some of their differences. The key is that your attorney (and the other) come to the mediation ready to compromise and settle your differences.
Your attorney may represent you at arbitration, which can mean a binding ruling in your case without requiring full litigation. You may need to go to arbitration under the terms of your existing contract.
Alternatively, the two sides may agree to arbitration to save themselves the expense and upheaval of a full trial. Your attorney will present your case to the arbitrator in the same way they may argue it in court.
How Your Attorney Will Represent You in Corporate Litigation
Sometimes, one party decides they cannot wait to try to resolve the dispute. Alternatively, all efforts to reach a compromise may have failed. Then, one or both parties to a dispute can file a lawsuit in court, asking a judge or jury to decide the matter. Then, your corporate litigation attorney’s role will become even more critical. You simply cannot go into any court procedures without skilled legal representation.
First, your attorney will help you in the opening stages of the litigation. If you file first, they can advise you about the best remedies to seek.
Usually, your options in litigation (they are not exclusive) are:
- Filing a lawsuit for damages (liquidated, nominal, compensatory, or punitive)
- Seeking an injunction to put a stop to certain behavior
- Asking for specific performance of a certain transaction
- Asking the court to rescind a certain transaction
If you face a lawsuit, your lawyer will help you determine how to respond. You can defend against the lawsuit with the right legal help to avoid or limit liability. Many defendants will also go on the offense by filing a counterclaim against the plaintiffs. Often, the two parties have a dispute where each one feels like they have suffered harm.
Corporate Litigation Can Take a Long Time
The actual detailed and involved litigation process can take a long time. Your lawyer will spearhead every aspect of your case, both in terms of dealing with the counterparty in court and potentially with them directly. Nothing will happen quickly, and the case proceeds one day at a time. There are often deadlines in the case, followed by what may seem to be periods of inactivity.
Your Lawyer Can Build Your Case in the Discovery Process
One of the most important roles that your corporate litigation lawyer will play is in the discovery process. In each case, you may request physical and factual evidence in the other party’s hands, and they can do the same from you. How your attorney handles discovery can dictate the outcome of your case.
Here is how your attorney can seek evidence from the other party:
- Requests for production of documents - Seeking physical documents, such as corporate records and emails in the other party’s possession
- Requests for admissions - Sending factual statements to the other party and asking them to admit them
- Interrogatories - Sending detailed questions about the facts to the other party that require an answer (or an objection)
- Depositions - Asking questions in person to the other party’s witnesses for them to answer under oath
Just like you have rights in discovery, so does the other party. They will also seek information from you in the same manner. Your attorney will coordinate your responses to the questions and potentially object if the requests were irrelevant, overbroad, or burdensome. Your attorney should also defend you in the discovery and keep the requests relevant and manageable.
Your Business Litigation Case Will Rarely Go to Trial
Business dispute trials are exceedingly rare. The odds are that your case will never reach a trial or even the lawsuit stage. Your attorney will play a critical role when and if you and the other party try to negotiate a settlement.
You may engage in settlement negotiations at many points during the trial. One key milestone is when the discovery process concludes. At that point, each party knows the strengths and weaknesses of its case. You may try to resolve the lawsuit to avoid the risk and uncertainty of a jury or bench trial.
Your attorney will handle the settlement negotiations with their counterpart. They may even try mediation at that point in the case. Your lawyer can help you narrow the gap between your positions, where settlement becomes a feasible option. If you reach an agreement, your attorney will draft the language, or they will review what the other party’s attorney has written.
How Your Attorney Represents You at Trial
If your case does go to trial, your attorney can:
- Make your opening statement in court
- Present your evidence and witnesses to the court
- Cross-examine the other party’s witnesses
- Make the closing statement
- File any necessary briefs, including the pre-trial and post-trial briefs
Finally, either party may appeal the verdict if they lose at trial.
An appeal means:
- Briefing the case to the appellate court
- Participating in oral arguments, where your lawyer will present your case and answer questions from the bench
The corporate litigation process is complicated and detailed. You should always turn to a professional at a moment’s notice when you think that you may be involved in a dispute.
The early stages of a dispute can determine possible resolutions of your case and the strength of your case for litigation. If you hire a lawyer too late, you can end up having to come from behind in your case. You always have to act as if the other party to the dispute has hired a lawyer. You need legal representation, especially when the other party has an attorney.
Speak With a Corporate Litigator Today
Too many people wait until a dispute fully develops to contact a business litigation attorney. If you discuss an arising disagreement with a corporate litigator early on, they might have the advice and tools to keep the matter out of court.
On the other hand, another party might have already filed a lawsuit against you, or you know you will not negotiate an agreement. Your corporate litigator can represent you in all stages of litigation and court proceedings. Seek legal assistance immediately.