Dealing with company disputes – what can be done?

Anyone involved in running a private company will understand how challenging and demanding it can be. They will also understand how difficult it can be to avoid disputes, but having legal advice, and the correct policies and documentation in place, can go some way to reduce the negative impact when disputes do arise.

Taking professional legal advice at an early stage can help with the effective and efficient investigation, identification and resolution of disputes which could otherwise be detrimental to a company and the people it employs.

It is also vital for the company to ensure efficient continuity of a good working relationship with those it trades with, its clients, customers, suppliers, contractors, and other stakeholders.

Our experienced dispute resolution solicitors are well-versed in advising businesses on a wide range of disputes and disagreements that can arise. Our team has experience of resolving disputes by a range of means, including negotiation and alternative dispute resolution as well as court proceedings. We will assess your case and talk through the various options with you, always looking for the option that is best for your business.

Our advice is pragmatic, and we will be honest with you about your position and your prospects so that you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.

Our team can also review company policies and documentation to reduce the risk of disputes arising in the first place. We can advise on the following:

Corporate governance

The structure of rules, practices, and processes used to direct and manage a company, it is primarily the role of a company’s board of directors to implement its corporate governance. It exists to help steer the company clear of financial, legal, and ethical pitfalls.

Commercial fraud

The term applied to several wide-ranging actions against or involving a company or business, usually involving criminal activity or dishonesty. We can advise on matters which can include misappropriation of corporate funds.

Director disputes

If not addressed swiftly and efficiently, director disputes can put pressure on a company, its ability to function and, ultimately, on its finances. In extreme cases, a director dispute can lead to the company severely suffering financially, and eventually failing.

Shareholder agreements and disputes

It is important to take the time to seriously discuss the way the business works, so all shareholders know exactly where they stand from the start. A formal agreement should be drawn up to reduce the risk of unnecessary future disputes – these are referred to as shareholder or partnership agreements, depending on the type of business. If you require advice to draw up an agreement, or amend an existing one, our team has the experience to do this swiftly and to the satisfaction of your board. By doing this, you can also deal with shareholders disputes more efficiently when they do arise.

Deadlocked companies 

If negotiation fails, and in the absence of any explicit agreement – such as a shareholders’ agreement – which specifies a method to resolve such a dispute, it may be impossible to make any decision. This situation is known as shareholder deadlock. We can help you find a way through such an impasse.

Director’s duties, responsibilities, and liabilities

The board of directors of a company is primarily responsible for determining the company’s strategic objectives and policies, and monitoring progress towards achieving its objectives. We can help you draw up contracts allowing each and every director to know exactly what their duties and responsibilities are.

The above is not an exhaustive list of the issues that can arise, or indeed the ways in which seeking early professional legal advice can help you avoid and/or deal with them.

Court cases can be time-consuming to prepare for, they divert your team’s attention away from their job, and they can be both stressful and expensive. We will look to see whether there are ways of resolving without the need to court proceedings but if the dispute cannot be resolved, our litigation lawyers will ensure that you have robust representation.

In order to minimise the potential for conflict and reduce the risk of uncertainty in the future, at Hutchinson Thomas, we understand that it’s vital for disputes to be resolved as quickly as possible.

For a free initial discussion about drawing up a shareholder or partnership agreement, contact Peter Morgan, Partner at Hutchinson Thomas on or call 01639 640 150.