When you first start out in business, you will usually be thinking of all the ways that it could work out for you if things go right. You don’t start a business, after all, unless you have at least that slice of optimism that allows you to believe it will all be fine. So, in the circumstance where your business finds itself drawn into litigation for the first time, it can be painful to have to think of things in a different light.
Most businesses will have to face some legal wranglings at some stage, but being the subject of proceedings is another matter. Whether it’s a former employee, another business or a dissatisfied customer who brings the lawsuit, it is tough for a company owner not to take the proceedings personally. The following are some key tips to bear in mind should you find yourself in that unpleasant position.
Plan for the worst
In an ideal world, any litigation brought against your company would be unsuccessful, but it’s wise to be realistic. If there wasn’t a chance of success, then the person or company bringing the case would probably not be bothering. This doesn’t mean you’re sure, or even likely, to lose, but it is sensible to be prepared for the situation where you do lose. Calculate how you can afford to keep running in that event, what assets you can afford to lose, and make preparations for the worst-case scenario. If you’re ready for it ahead of the case, then you’ll be able to absorb any outcome.
Get yourself some representation
It’s often tempting to defend yourself in a courtroom; you know the business better than anyone, you have passion on your side and you can present a human face. However, litigation tends to come with mountains of paperwork and, crucially, is almost invariably brought by trained attorneys. You must resolve to contact the likes of Tully Rinckey the moment an action is brought against you. Sometimes, the plaintiff will seek to bury you in discovery paperwork and legalese. A professional eye will be essential in fighting this.
Be prepared to settle
It’s a fact of the legal system that many cases never actually get as far as a court hearing; litigation can be expensive and exhausting (and it will often expose personal information about plaintiff, defendant or both). All in all, it is sometimes better to settle out of court with no fault admitted. Although this may mean paying money you morally shouldn’t have to, it might be the pragmatic thing to do and will allow you to put the experience behind you. A great many cases end this way; it’s not satisfying, but sometimes it needs to be done.
If you find yourself fighting litigation, be aware of your options and speak to the experts to ensure you make the smartest move for yourself and your business.