In a business lawsuit, such as a breach of contract, unfair competition, or similar business litigation dispute, one of the main strategic decisions in the case is usually whether to take the case to trial, or alternatively to negotiate a settlement and avoid trial. While business litigation trial lawyers make most of the strategic decisions in a fast-moving business lawsuit, the decision whether to settle the case and on what terms is always that of the client. Certainly the attorneys can and usually do give advice about settlement. But the decision whether to settle the case must ultimately be decided by the client.
The decision whether to take a case all the way to trial and verdict has many considerations. Perhaps the single most important consideration involves risk. By negotiating a settlement, the client can control the outcome of the case. Trial can be an uncertain process. While the attorney and client may believe in the case and expect to prevail, sometimes judges and juries see things differently and rule unpredictably. It happens. Negotiating a settlement controls this risk. Losing at trial is almost always a possibility and settlement eliminates this possibility.
Another critical consideration in deciding to settle a case is cost. Experienced business trial lawyers know that the costs of taking a case to trial begin to mount up considerably as the trial date approaches. There are many things that must be done within approximately 90-120 days of trial, such as preparation/rehearsal of witnesses, preparation of trial exhibits, jury instructions, and much more. Often timely settlement of a business lawsuit can avoid these costs. Settlement is always a negotiation between opposing sides. It is not uncommon in a business lawsuit that the costs of litigation that are saved by settling the case are greater than whatever concessions our side must make in order to reach a settlement. Sometimes settlement simply makes hard-headed business sense for both sides.
Another advantage to settlement, if you are the plaintiff, can be collectability. It can sometimes be difficult to collect on a judgment after trial. A well-crafted settlement agreement will normally have safeguards to attempt to ensure collection of the settlement amount by the plaintiff.
Yet another consideration of settlement is finality. It is not uncommon in a business lawsuit that the loser will appeal. Appeal can be costly and time consuming. By settling the case before trial, the negotiated settlement will invariably close the door to further disputes over the matter and constitute a full and final resolution of all claims.
Buffington Law Firm’s business trial attorneys are always prepared to take a case to trial if this is necessary and the choice of the client. But we also have broad experience in mediation and settlements of business, real estate, and trust disputes. If you are involved in such a dispute, we invite you to arrange for a free legal consultation with one of our experienced business litigation attorneys to discuss your rights confidentially.