What is Business Litigation?
Business litigation involves the resolution of disputes in the business world. It’s a very broad area of practice. The Florida Bar actually has a board certification of business litigation, of which I’m one of the certified members in that field. To sit for the exam in business litigation, you have to have tried at least eight trials in the preceding five years of your practice. Before the exam, you have to go through a peer review by your legal peers and judicial peers. And then you have to successfully pass a daylong exam.
Business Litigation is a Broad Area
To understand the breadth of what business litigation involves, you need look only at what the Florida Bar tests on for it. That includes areas such as construction litigation and real estate litigation. Within that, it includes intellectual property law, trademarks. It includes enforcement of noncompete agreements.
It also includes areas such as securities fraud, includes areas such as copyright infringement, unfair trade practices, tortious interference with the business rights of another party, fraud, unfair and deceptive trade practices, unfair competition. So it’s a very broad area. It pretty much encompasses all disputes that occur within the business world. And it involves the litigation of those disputes. And by litigation, that could be before a state court judge, United States District Court judge if it’s in the federal arena.
It could be in a private arbitration proceeding if the parties to the dispute have agreed that they want their dispute resolved privately in an arbitration setting. But ultimately business litigation involves presenting the dispute to a trier of fact who will then make the final decision as to the outcome.
Businesses Ranging from Small to Large
Attorney Chad Walker: Our business litigation clients include businesses ranging from smaller, locally owned businesses all the way up to national and international businesses. And we represent those clients in a variety of commercial disputes or disputes arising out of a commercial relationship. That when I say variety, they vary in complexity, they vary in the nature of the dispute.
And so as part of broadly defining our business litigation practice, it could be a dispute that arises out of a contract, an existing written contract between the parties, and a fairly, what we might consider a more straightforward dispute, a breach of contract, a dispute over money. All the way up to a very complex, factually intensive commercial litigation dispute that involves what can be called commercial torts. Might involve fraud or negligent mass representation, potentially could involve a civil theft. And so really when you look at our business litigation practice as a firm, anything that arises out of a commercial relationship or commercial transaction potentially falls within what we do as part of our practice.
Contracts Are Key
Attorney Gene Atwood: We are also business litigators. Jeff actually has his certification in that area. Others of us have spent a good deal of time litigating business disputes.
Some of my larger cases have been purely business disputes. One was in Charleston, South Carolina, and involved investing REIT in an LLC that was being mismanaged by the managing partner. They were developing three different residential communities in the Charleston area. And I became the lead counsel in unraveling the relationship between the two of them and assisting the REIT in taking over the partnership and completing the development of the three communities. Again, it comes down to contracts.
That litigation turned on what the internal rate of return provision had been on the contract, what the guarantees were on that, and what recourse the investing member had if the rate of return wasn’t met. Without understanding the importance of each of the provisions, it may have been overlooked as to what the dispute could have been about or what avenues the REIT had in order to resolve the issues.
Business litigation is complex. It’s an area in which you need to have a lawyer experienced, who understands the nuances of your particular legal problem.