Disputes among business co-owners present special challenges. The separation of business owners of a closely held entity will often surpass a marital divorce in terms of expense, complexity and personal acrimony. Like a marital divorce, money and emotions play a substantial, and quite often leading, role in the business break-up. Similar to a marriage, private business ventures start with the utmost optimism. That is what makes a subsequent break-down in the relationship all the more difficult, especially when family members are involved.
When these challenging situations arise, it is essential to have the advice and guidance of counsel who not only have a sound grasp of the law in this unique area, but also understand business transactions. Our team of commercial litigation and transactional attorneys have a command of the applicable statutes and case law governing these matters, such as the New Jersey Oppressed Minority Shareholder Statute, similar statutes in other states, and comparable standards for limited liability companies and partnerships. We also possess a thorough understanding of the types of business transactions that often underlie these disputes, as well as of the myriad issues concerning business valuations and forensic analysis.
The most well-drafted documents in the world will not prevent or avoid all subsequent shareholder or owner disputes. However, carefully crafted documents at the outset of the relationship can substantially reduce the potential for later conflict. Even after conflicts arise, our attorneys can help avoid litigation by developing creative solutions to bridge previously intractable differences between co-owners. Where litigation is necessary, we develop winning strategies designed to achieve an expeditious and effective resolution. We regularly appear before the Chancery judges who adjudicate these business divorce disputes. We also have access to an extensive network of the most experienced forensic accountants, business valuation and appraisal experts, and computer forensic experts who can play a role in obtaining the most successful outcomes possible for our clients.
Finally, we have the experience, once matters are settled or adjudicated, to draft appropriate agreements that memorialize the essential terms, avoid or alleviate any potential for future disputes, take into account applicable tax considerations, and keep in mind any important estate planning objectives.
Michael L. Rich Principal