Sometimes the owners of businesses, whether that business be a partnership, a limited company or a limited liability partnership, fall into dispute. The dispute might, for example, be about the way the business is run or the way profits should be split.
In the case of partnerships the dispute could be between partners who had become embroiled in a partnership dispute. In a limited liability partnership the dispute could be between the Members of that LLP. In the case of a limited company the dispute would be between directors and/or between shareholders (who are the actual owners of the business).
Any dispute within a business quickly causes damage and it is vital therefore that disputes are resolved as quickly as possible. We can help resolve those disputes quickly by advising on the overall position and on the routes out of the dispute
Our first port of call will always be to look at the "rules” that apply to that business and its owners. In the case of a partnership this would involve looking at the written partnership agreement - hopefully there would be one, but sadly there often isn't. In an LLP dispute it would involve looking at the LLP/Members' Agreement. In a dispute between shareholders in a limited company we would look at the Articles and Memorandum of the limited company, and also at any shareholders' agreement that was in place - though often, sadly, none exists.
If there are no up to date or tailored sets of rules in a particular situation, then things are immediately more vague, uncertain, lengthy, and expensive. Far better to have everything tailored and in place - see those parts of our website that deal with partnership agreements and shareholders agreements.
Having understood the legal and contractual framework within which the dispute is taking place, and having listened to the facts about and the causes of the dispute, we can advise you of the options open to you to make progress towards a resolution of the dispute.
Those options can include negotiations with the other parties, or by invoking a more formal mediation process. If all else fails, we can take formal action in the courts to protect your interests. Depending on the business structure in question, there are different mechanisms within the law to enable the Court to resolve disputes. For example, if you are a minor shareholder in a company and you feel the controlling shareholders are taking action in the business which is prejudicial to you, you can start a Minority Shareholder's action against them. If you are a partner in a partnership you can bring an action asking the Court to procure "an account” on who owns what in the firm.
As we have mentioned above, what you can and cannot do in any given situation will depend on the type of business and what written agreements are in place between the owners.
If the dispute is having a significant impact on your business immediately you can sometimes apply to the Court for an interim injunction to help the business function until the dispute is resolved.
At Brearleys we can assist with all of these unfortunate situations at a cost that will not break the bank.