By Zak Goldberg, law expert
A lawsuit: anyone who is in small business is aware that it can happen and yet few people know how to guard against it.
Facing a lawsuit is a scary process, which can drain your time, energy and money. Depending on your sector, a potential lawsuit could take many different forms, ultimately with the same outcome of bringing your reputation into question.
Whether the allegations come from a customer, staff, or rival business, the process can be upsetting and demoralising.
However, there are a few things you can take into consideration to help deal with the situation effectively:
COME UP WITH A PLAN
Step one is simple: plan ahead. This helps to alleviate the obvious panic you will be feeling by making you feel that you are attempting to do something about it.
If you have a plan, then you have something to refer to if things get trickier, and you will feel proactive, as opposed to passive regarding the lawsuit itself.
Applying logic and strategy are not always easy when you are already struggling to cope, and things could get harder as time goes on.
SEEK LEGAL ADVICE
As soon as you are served up any papers, you should seek legal advice immediately. Speaking with an expert allows you to receive advice from someone who has experience of this kind of situation, and worse. This will not only help you to stop panicking but also provide you with a competent plan.
Facing a lawsuit is a scary process, which can drain your time, energy and money
Be careful who you choose at this stage. It goes without saying that the expenses may match the quality of service, and opting for the cheapest lawyer may not be the most useful option. Hire a reputable firm and this will likely cost less than hiring an inadequate one!
DO SOME RESEARCH
Along with getting legal advice, you will also want to read up about how lawsuits work. The lawyer can explain some of this to you, and it may benefit you to speak to anyone else who has been through a similar thing, in order to gain as much information as possible.
Knowledge, after all, is power.
ADMIT AND APOLOGISE
Once you have a strategic legal plan, you will need to react to the allegations in a way that saves your reputation.
If there is any truth in the situation, admit and apologise as early as possible. Everyone makes mistakes, and admitting to them is certainly better than trying to deny it and ending up with a bad reputation.
You may need to hire a PR firm who deal with crisis management, depending on the situation. Together with your legal representative, this will help you come up with the best way to deal with the case.
REMEMBER THE COST OF LITIGATION
Litigation funding will be needed. There are several ways companies can pay for their legal costs, from legal aid to personal financing.
Speaking to your legal advisor should include strategising how you are going to afford the legal costs.
STAY FOCUSED ON THE BUSINESS
It’s easy to get caught up in the case and forget to operate as normal. Don’t forget your customers, and do your best to keep things running as smoothly as possible. This will also provide something positive for you to focus on, which will do wonders for your mental health at this time.
Once you have a strategic legal plan, you will need to react to the allegations in a way that saves your reputation
Whilst the above advice is intended to help you formulate a plan, each litigation case is different and the most important step you can take is to get legal advice as early as possible.
About the blogger
Zak Goldberg is a Law and Business Graduate from the University of Leeds who has chosen to follow his aspirations of becoming a full-time published writer, offering his expertise on all areas of law.