In many business litigation, real estate litigation, and trust dispute cases, in many circumstances it is more cost-effective to settle a case as opposed to taking the case all the way to trial and verdict. The factors that determine this decision are complex, and in this short Blog article I will try to present an overview of some of the factors that determine whether settlement is a good option in business litigation.
Firstly, the decision as to whether to settle a business litigation or trust litigation case is always the client's. While we frequently advise our client as to whether a given settlement is in his or her interests, the Professional Rules of Conduct governing lawyers dictate that only the client can make an offer or counter-offer, or accept one. Attorneys have a duty to promptly communicate any offer that the other side makes. Settlement is ultimately always the client's decision.
Settlement can make sense for numerous reasons. Some of the leading ones are:
- Settlement allows you to control the outcome. It is almost never certain how a judge or jury will rule. Settlement vastly reduces the risks that are inherent in any lawsuit.
- Settlement can be cost-effective. If you can settle your case well before trial your net recovery may well be better than if you went to trial, even if trial might yield a somewhat larger judgment. In litigation the last couple of months are often the most expensive due to the intense preparation involved in many trials coupled with the cost of trial itself.
- Settlement can be more certain. Often a settlement will involve strong incentives for a defendant to pay the settlement amount in accordance with strict terms, with adverse consequences for default. This can minimize the issue of collecting on a judgment.
In business, trust, and real estate litigation we have learned that the best way to achieve a good outcome via settlement is to prepare for trial. It is a mistake to simply file a lawsuit and expect the other side to come to the table to settle. We achieve the best settlement outcomes by being prepared for trial. When the other side knows that our side is prepared to go to trial, this often motivates them to approach settlement meaningfully and realistically. Put simply, if the opposition knows that we mean business this makes them "get real."
If you are involved in a business, real estate, or trust dispute, we encourage you to call Buffington Law Firm for a no-obligation free legal consultation. In this meeting you will have an opportunity to discuss your case with an experienced litigation attorney and we will give you our recommended course of action concerning your case.