During the course of doing business, disputes are not uncommon. Whether it’s a breach of contract, intellectual property matter, conflict between partners, or disagreement over finances, a commercial dispute can be time-consuming and costly. However, there are a few steps business owners can take if they believe litigation is anticipated.
If you have received a cease and desist or demand letter, you should take immediate action. Although these types of letters are not legally binding, they usually indicate the party’s intention to bring a lawsuit. If you don’t respond, you could end up receiving a summons and complaint, along with a temporary restraining order. By acting swiftly, you can work to resolve the dispute before litigation is commenced.
If your business has insurance that protects you from certain types of commercial claims, it’s crucial to notify your insurance carrier promptly. Some insurers will only provide coverage if claims are reported immediately, so they should be contacted the moment litigation is anticipated.
As a business owner, your focus should be on building your company and expanding your bottom line. By hiring a good business attorney from the outset, you can keep your eye on your business endeavors — rather than your legal issues. A commercial litigtion attorney who concentrates in commercial law can help guide you through the business litigation process and work to protect your interests. They can also assess whether there are viable alternatives to litigation that can help save you time and money and determine the best course of action based on the facts of your case.
The moment litigation is anticipated, you should take steps to preserve evidence. It is vital to identify the information and documentation that will support your position early on. In addition, be sure to comply with any retention policies your company has in place to avoid inadvertently destroying evidence that may be relevant such as contracts, emails, letters, invoices, and text messages. Importantly, do not intentionally discard any evidence — a court can impose severe sanctions for doing so.
Part of preserving evidence is identifying data custodians and locating where the information is stored. Interview people in your company who are likely to possess information about the facts of the dispute. You should also instruct them not to destroy any documentation they may have. The information you gather can be essential to help develop a legal strategy in your case.
Evidence isn’t only that which is in tangible form. It’s vital to understand that you also have an obligation to preserve electronic data stored in computers, tablets, cellphones, and other devices. It’s a good idea to work closely with your IT team to make sure this data is properly saved and stored. This data will also have to be organized for review and production, which can take a considerable amount of time.
If you have reason to believe business litigation is anticipated, it’s best to limit any verbal or written communication with the other side unless your attorney has approved it. Any letters, emails, or conversations you have may be used in court. Once you have retained counsel, all communication should go through them. Importantly, the other side’s attorney is not permitted to speak with you directly — they can only communicate through your attorney.
Your attorney can help create a legal strategy based on the information gathered and the facts of your case. In some cases, mediation or arbitration may be used to resolve a dispute outside of the courtroom. Depending on the circumstances, settling out of court can be more cost-effective and help to protect your company’s reputation. However, if the other side refuses to discuss settlement, you may have no option other than proceed through the business litigation process.
Many commercial lawsuits take years to resolve. However, your business does not have to stop operating and growing during this time. It’s vital that you don’t allow a pending lawsuit dictate the success of your company or the relationship you have with your clients, customers, and employees.
If you are facing a business dispute, it’s critical to have an attorney by your side who can help you navigate the business litigation process. Located in Rolling Meadows, Litico Law Group provides reliable 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 with your commercial matter.