If you’re dealing with a business dispute, you might be wondering if filing a lawsuit is the only way to resolve the matter. In some situations, filing a lawsuit is necessary to get the results that your business needs to move forward.
However, there are several alternatives to litigation that may be worthwhile to pursue in certain circumstances. At the Buzbee Law Firm, we believe that learning about the ways to resolve business disputes can help you make smart legal decisions if you’re ever faced with intellectual property infringement or breach of contract.
Common Alternatives to Litigation
If a competitor has stolen your company’s intellectual property, filing a lawsuit against them can be incredibly time-consuming and expensive. According to the American Intellectual Property Law Association, some patent lawsuits can cost as much as $5 million to litigate.
Wouldn’t you rather opt for a cheaper alternative to litigation and put the money you save towards a project that helps your business grow? If your answer is “yes,” you’ll be excited to hear more about the following options:
Mediation is a process facilitated by a neutral third party who attempts to help both sides reach a mutually beneficial agreement. The mediator will take the positions and goals of both sides into account and formulate a resolution that works for both parties.
Unlike litigation, mediation is not a legally binding process. However, any agreements or settlements that are reached are enforceable. Mediation doesn’t require the exchange of information, documents, and the other formalities we associate with litigation, making it much less expensive and highly efficient.
Arbitration is similar to mediation in that it involves two opposing parties working with a neutral third party to reach a resolution. It differs from mediation because the arbitrator’s final decision is legally binding.
Arbitration is also a private process, meaning that the press and competitors won’t have access to updates or results regarding the process unless both parties agree to make it a public affair. That way, you won’t have to worry about your company’s sensitive information landing in the hands of the wrong person.
If you’re looking for a faster and less expensive alternative to litigation, arbitration might be right for you. That’s because arbitration usually has strict deadlines, no discovery process, and appeals are generally not allowed. Overall, arbitration is a low-cost method to reach a private resolution quickly.
A mini-trial is a voluntary affair in which appointed representatives from both parties meet to reach a resolution. A neutral third party may help the process by acting as a judge or juror. The representatives from both sides are given the authority to agree on a settlement.
Participants in a mini-trial are not legally bound to the outcome that the process produces. In fact, they may choose to end the trial at an impasse. This can help both sides avoid committing to a resolution that doesn’t work for them.
Mini-trials are ideal for disputes between two parties that have a great deal of emotion and bias. Since the representatives in a mini-trial aren’t emotionally involved in the dispute, they can come to a rational agreement that benefits both parties.
Other Alternatives to Litigation
There are a number of other “unstructured” alternatives to litigation that you may want to consider before agreeing to participate in a mediation process or mini-trial. Suppose a competitor has infringed upon your company’s intellectual property. Instead of resolving the matter through mediation, you can simply send them a cease and desist letter.
In most cases, a properly worded cease and desist letter can stop a competing company from using your patented property. No one wants to go through an expensive court trial, so the competing company will likely heed your warning in hopes of avoiding litigation.
Cease and desist letters can also include a settlement offer. If the competitor deems that paying the settlement is less costly and time-consuming than going to trial, they’ll probably end up paying the requested amount.
An Attorney Can Help You Pursue Alternatives to Litigation
Determining whether litigation, arbitration, mediation, or another alternative is right for you can be extremely confusing. Fortunately, a commercial litigation attorney can help you decide which path to take. They’ll help you weigh the pros and cons of each option and figure out which one works best for the dispute you’re dealing with.
Although your attorney might not be the neutral party that oversees or mediates the process, having them present can help facilitate and fast-track an amicable resolution. Here are some examples of disputes and business issues that a commercial litigation lawyer can help your resolve:
- Breach of contract
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Breaking a financial agreement
- Confidentiality agreements
- Dissolving a business relationship
- Employment issues
- Intellectual property infringement
- Property disputes
As you can see, litigation alternatives can be used to resolve many different issues. If you’re dealing with a dispute between yourself and a business partner or competitor, you’ll want to speak with an attorney you can trust. Working with an experienced and reliable lawyer will help you reach an outcome that meets your business’s needs.
Our Commercial Litigation Lawyers Can Help With Your Dispute
Hiring a commercial litigation attorney to help you resolve your dispute can help you get the results your business needs to thrive. Our lawyers can help you pursue a lawsuit or advise you on alternatives to litigation. They’ll help you determine which option benefits your business the most and oversee the entire process, ensuring everything goes smoothly.
Contact the Buzbee Law Firm today to learn more about litigation and other ways to resolve a business issue. Our team will schedule a free consultation to learn more about the problems your business is facing. If we think we can help you reach a healthy agreement, we’ll get started on it right away!