by Timothy J. Langella
MDRS Neutral and Guest Blogger
Business disputes come in all shapes and sizes, and often have both monetary and emotional elements. Take this case, for example:
Two brothers-in-law go into business together and form a partnership or closely held corporation, after marrying their respective wives (who are sisters). After a rocky start, the business is soon notably successful. The two couples are close: they work, vacation, and even socialize together. They each start a family and the cousins seem like siblings for many years. But as the cousins age, they grow apart, causing tension among the four parents. Small issues become large ones, tensions escalate, and the previously-strong partnership is in peril. The men begin to bicker and argue at work, one claims the other is not as dedicated to the business, and claims of unreasonably-inflated business expenses are made – and categorically challenged. Eventually, the two sides don’t even speak to each other, the sisters are alienated, and a lawsuit claiming breach of contract, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty is filed.
Litigation may be able to resolve the financial aspects of this dispute – after months, if not years, of paying lawyers and experts to sort through the relevant information – but it willnever resolve the family dynamic issue. Mediation is the very best option to not only contend with the dispute, but to deal with the factors that have also arisen beyond the business issues. Mediating such a matter not only keeps decision-making in the hands of the partners, but also offers perhaps the best chances at preserving (hopefully improving) these complicated relationships.
An experienced mediator, skilled in partnership disputes, can help the parties air and resolve all aspects of their grievances. Quickly, efficiently, and less costly than protracted litigation, mediation offers unequalled ROI.