Business partners rarely enter into a partnership expecting future conflict. Unfortunately, the reality is that many business partners come to disagree about fundamental business-related issues or have a personal falling out at some point in their careers. While it is possible to prepare for this eventuality by carefully drafting a partnership agreement at the outset of a business relationship, many parties fail to do so. However, even individuals who do complete a partnership agreement could face high litigation costs and other consequences as the result of a business conflict, so if you have a serious dispute with a fellow partner, it is critical to speak with an experienced complex business litigation attorney who can explain your legal options.
Partnership disputes have a number of different causes, although the most common include:
Business partners who find themselves unable to resolve these types of issues still have a number of options, including mediation.
The mediation process is non-adversarial and encourages the disputing parties to work together with the help of a neutral third party to reach a solution. Mediation allows the parties to keep the conflict private, which is a huge benefit for businesses whose companies may otherwise suffer if the dispute were made a matter of public record. Furthermore, according to Oklahoma law, mediation agreements are fully enforceable in court and so allow the parties to avoid prolonged litigation.
Like mediation, arbitration involves a neutral third party. However, in arbitration proceedings, the third party, also known as an arbitrator reviews evidence, hears testimony and then renders a final decision that is enforced by the courts. Although arbitration is usually cheaper than litigation and much swifter, the parties are not permitted to appeal an unfavorable decision.
When a conflict cannot be resolved, one or both partners may decide that the only solution is to dissolve the company. If the partners entered into an agreement when they formed the business, this process is relatively simple as long as the parties outlined how assets and debts will be divided. Whether or not the partners have an official agreement, they are required to distribute funds in a certain order. For instance, creditors must be paid first, at which point partners can collect their capital contributions before distributing anything left over. However, if not all of the partners agree to dissolve a business, one of them will need to file a civil action in court.
Please call Deborah Brooks & Associates P.C. today at (405) 840-6363 or send us a quick email to schedule a consultation with an experienced business litigation attorney who can evaluate your case.