Timeline of a Litigated Business Dispute

Litico Law Group
Female lawyer holding document and speaking to jury in courtroom concept for timeline of a litigated business dispute.

A business dispute can be seriously disruptive to your company’s operations and bottom line. One of the first questions you might have if you’re facing litigation is how long your case will take to resolve. Importantly, every commercial case is unique and involves a different set of facts and circumstances. There is no specific timeline that can be applied to business dispute litigation — cases may be resolved in as little as a few months or they might take years, depending upon the complexity of the issue. However, there is a certain legal process that is followed for every matter.

Factors Affecting the Timeline for Business Dispute Litigation

The litigated business dispute timeline can depend upon many factors, including the parties’ willingness to mediate, discuss settlement, and resolve the matter outside of court. If you’re facing a business dispute, an experienced business law attorney can help you navigate the litigation process.

It is not possible to give a precise timeline when it comes to commercial litigation. The litigated business dispute timeline can depend upon many factors, including the parties’ willingness to mediate, discuss settlement, and resolve the matter outside of court. Other factors that can impact how long business dispute litigation might take can include the following:

  • The complexity and number of issues in the case
  • The amount of discovery to be conducted
  • The court’s calendar and scheduling
  • The number of witnesses and their availability
  • The commitment of the parties to resolve the dispute
  • The experience of the attorneys in the case

When something goes wrong during the course of doing business or a transaction does not go as planned, it’s essential to tackle the matter early on. In the event both sides begin settlement talks as soon as possible, the litigation process might only take a few months if an agreement can be reached. But when a business dispute involves a large quantity of evidence and requires multiple appearances in court, a case can go on for years.

The Business Dispute Litigation Process

There are a wide variety of conflicts a business owner can face. These can include breaches of contract or fiduciary duty, partnership disputes, misrepresentation, non-solicitation matters, deceptive trade cases, fraud, and more. Although the issue in each case might be different, the business dispute litigation process typically follows the same structure for every type of dispute.

Generally, an attorney will first investigate the facts involved with a commercial case. Once they have heard your position and reviewed any relevant documents, they can make a determination regarding whether litigation is the best course of action to pursue. Business dispute litigation usually follows the following sequence:

  • Pleadings are filed — The business dispute litigation process is commenced when a complaint is filed with the court. The plaintiff then has a certain amount of time to serve it on the defendant. The defendant can either answer the complaint, file a motion to dismiss, or make counterclaims.
  • The discovery phase — Discovery in business litigation is when evidence is exchanged by both sides. This is often the longest phase of the litigation process and can involve subpoenas, depositions, interrogatories, and other tools to gather information.
  • Settlement discussions are held — While settlement discussions can be held at any point during the litigation process, both parties may attempt to resolve the case once they have obtained information through the discovery process, before proceeding to trial.
  • The trial phase — If the parties do not reach a resolution, the trial phase of litigation will begin. From preparation to verdict, this phase of litigation can last several months. Trial includes several different components, including jury selection, opening arguments, questioning witnesses, and closing arguments.
  • Settlement or a verdict — The parties are free to reach a settlement at any point in the case. It’s not uncommon for a case to settle on the eve of trial. However, if the case is decided by a jury, they will return a verdict after hearing the evidence and deliberating.
  • Appeal — A jury’s verdict isn’t always the end of a commercial case. If a mistake of law or procedure was involved that would have rendered a different outcome, the non-prevailing party might choose to file an appeal.

Sometimes, a business contract might specify that mediation or arbitration must be attempted to settle a dispute before a lawsuit is commenced. Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution that can sometimes be used to help resolve a commercial conflict efficiently and cost-effectively. In addition, if less than $50,000 of monetary damages is in dispute, the court might require that the case go to arbitration.

Contact an Experienced Business Dispute Litigation Attorney

If you’re facing a business dispute, it’s critical to have an experienced business law attorney on your side who can help you navigate the litigation process. Located in Rolling Meadows, Litico Law Group provides skillful representation to business owners and entrepreneurs throughout Illinois. We welcome you to contact us by filling out our online form or call (847) 307-5942 to schedule a consultation to learn how we can assist you.

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