How do I Know if My Business Dispute is Headed to Litigation?

Disputes happen when you’re in business—it’s almost inevitable. Hopefully, your contracts have done a good job of already answering the “what ifs?” of key hypothetical situations that come up. If they haven’t already provided an answer, you, your business, and your business partner will be left to deal with the fall out.

What happens next can vary. The best case scenario is that all parties want to resolve the issue efficiently and without going to court. Going to court means extra fees, expenses, and time that you and your business may not be able to afford. Unfortunately, this is not how every dispute is handled. Sometimes, the negotiation process breaks down, and in some cases the parties are forced to turn to litigation. This is why it’s so important to hire an experienced business firm like Cove Law before it ever gets to that point.  

Here are four common red flags that may mean you should gear up to head to court:

There is a communication breakdown.

When you and your business partners get together to discuss your issue, it’s important to make sure that everyone’s opinions and issues are heard. If someone perceives that they are being ignored, they may detach from the discussion. To maintain a healthy discussion, make sure that everyone’s opinions are heard and discussed. Don’t let anyone overpower the conversation. If it is perceived that one person is unwilling to listen to other opinions, it may end your negotiation process before any real solution is reached.

No one is listening.

Yes, this is part of a communication breakdown. If your communications have stagnated to the point where you and your partners aren’t even talking about reaching a resolution anymore, you may be headed to court. When most of your communication feels like you’re talking past each other instead of with each other, you may need to start getting ready for litigation.

Communication ceases.

Keep in mind, communication goes both ways. Clearly, it’s a sign that things are going poorly if your business partner won’t return your emails, calls, or messages. It’s possible that you’re getting ignored because the other party is preparing for litigation. Regardless, if someone won’t answer your call, they probably aren’t interested in participating in problem-solving or mediation with you anymore.

Likewise, if you start hiding from your business partners or ignoring calls, it sends a message that you are not interested in communicating with them. Even if your intention is not to head to litigation, this behavior could alarm them and cause them to seek legal counsel.

“Talk to my lawyer.”

Well, there it is—the surest sign of the end of the negotiation process. Whenever someone directs you to speak with his or her lawyer, it’s likely negotiations have come to an end. In this case, you should go get a lawyer for yourself as well (if you haven’t already).

At Cove Law, our firm is focused on helping businesses effectively handle their legal issues. If you believe your business dispute is headed to litigation, give us a call at (954) 921-1121. Let us help ensure that your thoughts and ideas are communicated as clearly as possible, both to the other party as well as in court.

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Written by Andrew Cove

Cove Law has significant experience defending federal investigations and formal actions by the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Finance Protection Board and the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as similar matters on the state level by the respective state Attorney General’s Offices and other local agencies.