The Law Offices of Peter Stanwyck, litigation and trial lawyers provides litigation solutions for disputes between partners and shareholders, employers and employees, vendors and their clients, commercial landlords and their tenants and contractors and their customers. We are located in Oakland, CA and represent clients throughout the San Francisco Bay area and California.
Sometimes litigation is a necessary tool to resolve a business dispute with a customer, supplier, vendor, partner, landlord, tenant or employee only after you’ve tried negotiation and compromise and only after you’ve made the calculation that the likely benefits of ligation exceed its burdens. Not every dispute has an effective means of resolution and sometimes walking away from the dispute is the better route, at least financially. Sometimes litigation is an appropriate choice and sometimes the choices of the other party ma ke it unavoidable. That said, litigation is expensive, time consuming, distracting and the outcome is uncertain.
Some cases, especially involving amounts in dispute of less that $25,000 will be greatly influenced by whether there is a Contract or Standard Terms and Conditions limiting damages, determining the location where the dispute will be resolved or providing for legal fees in the event of a dispute. If you come to my office describing a $10,000 dispute with a customer in Wisconsin with which there is no written agreement and no right to legal fees, you’re likely to hear me say that my solution is worse than your problem. It will likely lead to a conversation about the importance of a contract or Standard Terms & Conditions which can control these some of these issues in your favor.
Mediation can be a useful tool in resolving a dispute, especially if both parties are already motivated to settle and feel they understand the strengths and weakness of their case. Mediation is a non-binding guided negotiation where an experienced mediator which encourage parties and their counsel to settle through a process of focusing on the key issues and sometimes with the non-binding recommendations of the mediator, A day of mediation can be expensive with the parties splitting the cost of the mediator which generally are in the range of $2,500 to $5,000 a day and sometimes much more. In addition your $7,500 to $10,000. As you can see this kind of mediation best serves larger cases, especially where there is a stong sense that it will lead to actual settlement.
When it first become a common tool, 25 years ago, Binding Arbitration was thought to be an effective option to a lawsuit. Arbitration is a private and not a court tribunal, typically one to three paid arbitrators, no judge, no jury and no appeal. Because pre-trial motions and discovery, common to court law suits are greatly curtailed and with no appeal, it was thought that arbitration would be much faster and far less expensive, and in fact, that can be true. It is also true that one aspect of expense is much greater for arbitration and that is to the expense of the arbitrators and the arbitration tribunal itself. With courts, the parties pay only a fraction of the real cost of providing judges, courts and administration. Arbitration is a for profit enterprise and the parties pay for all of it .A five day arbitration with a single arbitrator may cost $20,000 in arbitrators fees alone which typically will be deposited in advance. All of that said, arbitration can be an effective and viable alternative.
Lawsuits, sometimes with a jury and sometimes only a judge is the oldest and most common form of dispute resolution. In fact, more often than not lawsuits settle before trial. Lawsuits have stages: (1) Pleadings, where the parties et out their psotion in writing; (2) Discovery, where the parties obtain evidence from each other; (3) Attempts at Settlement where the court typically orders the parties to participate in some for of settlement attempt; (4) Preparing for trial; and the trial itself.
While Small Claims Court has its limitations, with the maximum claim being increased to $10,000, some businesses now choose that route, where attorneys are NOT ALLOWED in court, but can help you prepare. If there is an appeal from a Small Claims judgment, you can be represented by an attorney.
Peter Stanwyck is an Oakland, California Attorney, representing clients throughout the San Francisco Bay Area Counties, Alameda, San Francisco, Contra Costa, Sam Mateo, Santa Clara and Marin. We represent businesses throughout California, as well as national and international clients with business interests in California.