Phyllis Lambert, Attorney at Law
 

Business Litigation

Business Litigation - An Overview

A business contemplating bringing or defending a lawsuit must consult with an attorney to understand the legal process.

Courtroom Procedure

In the event your business becomes involved in litigation, knowledge of courtroom procedure is essential.  Courtroom procedure can be complicated, and knowing what to expect can enable a business to prepare effectively.  If you are faced with litigation involving a business transaction or any aspect of your business, a lawyer can provide additional assistance and counsel regarding your jurisdiction, court, and possible legal options for your situation.  A business lawyer is an excellent resource for information regarding litigation and courtroom procedure.

Business Litigation - Appeals

An appeal is an official request for a higher court to review a trial court decision based on alleged error of procedure or alleged error in application of the law.  In civil cases, including business litigation, this may occur immediately following a decision on a motion or at the end of a trial.  The ability to appeal and the timing of an appeal depends on the court rules and laws of the relevant jurisdiction.  In the realm of business litigation, the appeals court scrutinizes the lower court decision to determine whether to uphold, reverse, or modify it.  

Alternative Dispute Resolution

In some instances, a business may want to avoid a public, complicated, and expensive courtroom battle by using instead an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method. ADR is a way to resolve legal issues without going to court. The two most frequently used forms of ADR, described below, are arbitration and mediation.

Arbitration

Arbitration employs a neutral third party (an arbitrator) or an arbitration panel to listen to both sides and makes a decision, which is usually binding.  The general purpose of arbitration is to provide a forum to resolve issues without having to go to court. The arbitrator acts in a capacity similar to that of a judge.  When two parties enter into a contract, there will often be an arbitration provision requiring that any legal issues arising from the agreement will be resolved in a binding arbitration proceeding rather than litigated in court.  These arbitration agreements commonly appear in a variety of contracts, including sales contracts and employment contracts.  Once the arbitrator makes a decision, the parties ordinarily cannot appeal to a higher judicial body.  On some occasions, an appeals process may take place if the parties have agreed upon it in the initial arbitration agreement.  However, the lack of an appeals process is generally seen as an attractive aspect of binding arbitration.  Arbitration can be either binding or nonbinding. Binding arbitration means that the result has the same legal effect as a court judgment - it is final and legally binding. Nonbinding arbitration means that the results are merely advisory opinions that might aid in the settlement negotiation process. After nonbinding arbitration, each party could still choose to pursue action in court.

Mediation

Mediation is another alternative to resolving civil disputes outside of traditional litigation. The mediation process is less formal than arbitration proceedings or trials. The process of mediation is attractive to businesses because they can avoid court and are able to discuss issues without the procedural constraints of litigation. Mediation functions through dialogue, facilitated by a neutral mediator. The process begins with opening statements and progresses through discussions and private caucuses. At the end of the proceeding, the parties may settle, in which case they will sign a binding settlement agreement; or they will not settle, in which case they proceed with trial.  Most mediation sessions last no longer than a day. The cost is limited to any charges for the mediator's service and any charges for the parties’ attorney’s time. Many cities have mediation centers, which typically deal with personal and business disputes and provide low-cost services.

Conclusion

If you are involved in a dispute regarding a business transaction or any aspect of your business, it is best to consult an attorney to address your particular situation. 

 

 
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