If you are a business owner, having knowledge about the types of lawsuits that affect businesses can help you prepare should you need to file one or find yourself in one some day. Commercial litigation encompasses any type of dispute that can happen in a business setting. Whether you want to file a claim against a key stakeholder who left and illegally impacted business finances, or you need to protect yourself against a breach of contract, these types of legal business issues fall under commercial litigation.
Unlike civil litigation, where a lawsuit occurs between two parties and a plaintiff seeks compensation or damages from a defendant, in commercial litigation, the business entity becomes one of the parties. Commercial litigation may involve:
- A business versus a business
- An individual versus a business
- Several individuals versus a business
- A business versus a government entity
While many of the aspects between civil litigation and business litigation may be similar, such as research discovery and court trials, commercial litigation can get extremely more complicated because of the complexity of the issues and stakeholders involved. Consumer class action lawsuits are a type of commercial litigation, in which several (sometimes thousands) of plaintiffs file a lawsuit together as one. This may happen when a negligent company disseminates a dangerous prescription drug, for example.
Because the stakes of a business reputation and business finances are at risk, commercial litigation lawsuits may last much longer than civil lawsuits, as well. These complexities warrant the need for an expert commercial litigation team to navigate to make the process successful for the parties they’re representing.
Commercial litigation includes virtually any case that involves a business and its strategy and implementation of that strategy. Some of these types of cases include:
- Breach of contract
- Employment disputes
- Intellectual property
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Real estate fraud
- Technology disputes
- Unlawful competition
- Wage and hour claims
Some litigious incidents that happen at a business, such as someone falling or slipping in a store, would not fall under commercial litigation – rather, that would be a personal injury case if the plaintiff decides to sue.
Some lawsuits against a company can debilitate a venture, bankrupting the company and tarnishing the name and reputation of not only the business, but of its executives and employees associated with it. Some commercial lawsuits become “bet the company” cases, where the outcome of a company’s performance depends on a single lawsuit. This outcome may hinge on the financial stakes of the lawsuit, the ability to use intellectual property that is concerned in a lawsuit, or a combination of a number of other factors.
“Bet the company” cases aren’t the only lawsuits that cause headaches for companies. Law dealings that aren’t handled by the proper team can result in production stoppages, recalls of products and more. Having an experienced lawyer to handle all business dealings in the first place helps to ensure a company is protected in their operations.
Business owners hope they never end up in court, but the grim reality is that disputes happen more often than you might think. According to the BTI Litigation Outlook 2018: Changes, Trends, and Opportunities for Law Firms report by independent research firm BTI Consulting Group, the number one litigation trend in 2018 is the expected increase in litigation spending by businesses. The report shows large companies are adding $1 billion in litigation spending this year. Settlements are also expected to reach a record high in 2018.
To protect the most precious assets a business has – employees, finances and reputation – forming relationships with a commercial litigation law firm can help a business to understand current lawsuit trends they should be aware of. The best lawsuit protection is to avoid one in the first place, but having a strong relationship with a commercial litigation attorney benefits a business that experiences it. Often, commercial litigation cases involve forensic investigations, witness interviews and other complicated research, which is where an attorney’s assistance is vital.
For individuals, going after businesses in a dispute is challenging. While there are so many laws in place to protect employees and customers, large corporations often have extensive, experienced legal teams to protect them. Having an attorney on your side to fight for you is paramount.
If you are a business owner or an individual who has questions about commercial litigation, the Birmingham commercial litigation attorneys at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums can help. Call (205) 322-8880 or text (205) 322-8880 for a free consultation.