Legal disputes are very unpleasant things. And though often not quite as personal as legal disputes between family members— business litigation can still be just as nasty.

A legal business dispute could be with a business partner, a vendor, a client or customer, or any other entity or individual your company has shared a professional agreement with.

And even though the conflict may not have escalated between you and the other party to the point of a formal complaint, or a lawsuit (yet), there are still critical things you need to know before moving forward. Because the tense period of time leading up to a potential business lawsuit, is the most crucial, and depending on how you handle it, can make or break the successful outcome of the dispute.

Here are 6 tips you need to know before you or your company gets into a business lawsuit:

1. Limit your written communication with the other party.
This can be a challenge because the time leading up to a potential lawsuit is the period of time in which parties often try to convey their issues with one another and attempt to amicably work things out. However, what you need to know is that lawsuits always involve discovery and the production of documents. Anything you put in writing, whether its a text or an e-mail, can be used in a trial against you.

2. Limit verbal communications (even internally.)
Just like with written communication, the parties are also able to “discover” the content of verbal communications. It’s important to limit verbal communication both with your potential legal adversary and any internal verbal communications with your own employees. The parties are entitled to take depositions of witnesses, including said employees.

3. Don’t admit to any level of fault
In an effort to try to smooth out the legal dispute, parties sometimes can admit some level of fault. This “mea culpa” will absolutely be used against you in future business litigation. In many cases it can be your Achilles heel in the courtroom— so it should be avoided if possible.

4. No trash talking or aggressive statements
Do not make aggressive statements against the party with whom you are having the legal dispute. As stressful as the conflict may become, it is crucial to keep the dialogue as civil as can be.

5. Try to lower the temperature.
In order to try to avoid a dispute and come to some type of workable arrangement, it is best to take a step back. It’s far more agreeable to work out a dispute civilly outside the courtroom than spend money on attorneys litigating an issue.

6. Contact your lawyer.
This is the most crucial bit of advice you need to know before getting into a corporate lawsuit, (or any type of lawsuit for that matter.) It’s never too soon to reach out to your lawyer when you think that a business dispute is beginning.

This article is intended for general information only, it is not intended to provide specific legal advice or recommendations for an individual case scenario.

Ramey & Flock is one of East Texas’ most storied and trusted law firms. We represent individuals, businesses and corporations in transactions and litigation, including labor and employment, intellectual property, oil and gas, and all manner of commercial litigation. We also offer trial support and consultation services. If you require legal services, contact us today.