Business disputes can be an inevitable and unavoidable cost of running any type of business. Typically, business disputes arise between businesses or companies when they disagree over the terms of a contract that binds both parties.
However, a business dispute can occur in any number of ways. These can depend on many factors, including the nature of each business involved, their history of dealings, as well as state and local jurisdictional laws.
Business disputes can arise or result from various types of transactions or conduct, but there are certain types of business disputes that are more common than others.
Businesses that specifically employ contractors, purchasers, suppliers, or business partners often have disputes over the contract terms. For instance, one party might not believe they were paid the proper contract price.
Or, one party might believe that they were not delivered the goods or service they were promised, or the product delivery was outside of the agreed upon timeframe. Whatever the case, contract disagreements can form the basis for many types business disputes.
Businesses that deliver goods or services to customers can also have disputes with their customers. These types of disputes can involve issues such as whether the goods or services were delivered or up to the standard expected.
Businesses typically provide implied warranties that the products sold are functional and operational. When the products are not up to these standards, or if the products harm any consumers, claims against the business can often be filed.
Employment claims are often filed in relation to businesses, especially in relation to hiring, promoting, and termination practices. Businesses are not allowed to discriminate or harass its employees; those that do expose themselves to business claims and various legal consequences.
Lastly, business disputes can also arise from the unapproved or unauthorized use of trade secrets, confidential information, intellectual property, and other sensitive or protected business information. An example of this is where one company uses another business’ logo without their permission. In such cases, a business dispute can arise over any of the profits generated by the unauthorized use of the logo.
Business generally can’t make themselves immune from all legal liability; however, they can limit the possibility of certain business disputes from happening. Businesses that create sound policies and procedures governing day-to-day interactions with employees and transactions with other businesses may reduce the possibility of business disputes.
For example, a business that uses standard, industry-approved forms and documents with boilerplate language for all business dealings are less likely be involved in disputes regarding contract terms.
Businesses should also have clear policies in place for hiring and firing their employees. A skilled employment attorney may help the business draft such policies so that they remain consistent with current business and employment laws.
For businesses that work directly with retail customers, using liability waivers or making sure all products have clear and visible product warnings can help avoid liability for injuries caused to consumers.
If your business is unable to prevent a dispute, it may be necessary to rely on a small claims court filing. This can help address or resolve outstanding bills, debts, or employment issues, but only when the damages amount falls within the small claims’ filing limitations.
Businesses may often use an Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) clause in a business contract. These types of clauses require that any legal disputes relating to the contract be resolved through binding alternative measures besides the court, such as arbitration or mediation. These types of dispute resolution processes must generally be exhausted before a lawsuit can be filed.
Arbitration is a type of process for resolving disputes between two parties outside of the standard court system. It is, however, similar to standard trial in that both parties must argue their case before an “arbitrator.” The arbitrator reviews the disputing parties’ claims and arguments, and then decides on a workable resolution that can benefit both parties.
Mediation is yet another similar type of conflict resolution process between multiple parties, and is also facilitated by a neutral third-party (the mediator). On the other hand, mediation is not the same as arbitration, in that the mediator does not make an actual decision regarding the parties and the resolution. Instead, the mediator’s sole aim and responsibility is to try to help the parties come to a workable resolution on their own.
If the parties cannot resolve their business outside of traditional court channels, one party may have to file a lawsuit against the other for damages or other business remedies.
Even seemingly minor business disputes can be very complicated, time-consuming and difficult to resolve. A business attorney can help the parties resolve a business dispute, whether through binding arbitration, mediation, or litigation, and can help resolve your case favorably and quickly in order to save resources.