T. Randolph Catanese, Esq. © 1998
Mistake No. 10 - Litigation Will Solve My Business Problems. All of us have heard the phrase "I'll see you in court." But what does that really mean? I was once in the Ventura County Superior Court as a Ventura County Business Lawyer meeting with the presiding judge (whom I will not name) and my client told the judge that he was there "seeking justice." The judge looked at my client squarely in the eyes and said "if you are seeking justice you're in the wrong place!" Why would the judge say that? If you have followed any of the recent widely publicized cases, you know that cases do not always turn out as you expect. Many times juries, although they are not to be biased or prejudicial, are exactly that. And, even if you have a judge try your case, judges are people too and they make mistakes sometimes based upon a bias or a prejudice (although they would never admit to that). Litigation should at all times be viewed as a solution of last resort. Litigation is expensive, uncertain and a huge time drainer. Furthermore, even if you win sometimes you ultimately lose. Meaning, quite simply, that many times you spend more money in obtaining a judgment than the amount of the judgment itself. Legal fees in California are not recoverable by the prevailing party except by statute or by written agreement. So, litigants many times spend more money in attorneys' fees than the original amount that was in controversy. The point is, try to avoid litigation unless it is absolutely necessary.
Because of the delays and costs of litigation, alternative dispute resolution ("ADR") methods have evolved. In particular, due to the litigation explosion which has occurred in the last 20 years, ADR has come to be viewed by many as a quick and cost effective means of solving business disputes. There are several organizations that make retired judges available to act as mediators and arbitrators as needed. Also, there are private attorneys who also act as mediators and arbitrators if the parties so choose. One benefit of ADR is it enables the parties to have a quick and effective resolution of the dispute. The downside is that the arbitration is generally binding which means that if you are unhappy with the result, you will not have a chance to appeal it to a higher court or authority. Simply whatever the result you are bound by it and you must accept it.
In conclusion, a business owner, whether new or old, who keeps these provisos in mind will not only have better success in business, but will likely avoid the unpleasantries of expensive fees with business dispute lawyer and litigation. Always keep in mind that your energy should be used doing productive things. The most productive energy you can use is being proactive by taking heed of these common mistakes. Good luck with your business!