Mayhall Fondren Blaize

Business disputes may be resolved prior to business litigation

Louisiana has plenty of business litigation disputes between oil and gas companies. Because business litigation is usually a drain on a company's resources and valuable time, early resolution of such disputes will often be a goal for both the disputing businesses and their attorneys. This may be even more important where the parties have an ongoing business relationship.

Settlement discussions and negotiations are of course key to moving the parties toward a resolution of their dispute. When entering such discussions, it is important that the parties stipulate that the discussions are confidential and that no party shall be bound to any statements or representations. It must be understood that all evidence revealed during negotiations is inadmissible in a later trial of the matter, should it go to trial.

Negotiations may be conducted prior to filing suit or right after suit is filed. This may be done between the attorneys where the litigation has been filed. Where the litigation was not yet filed, sometimes the attorneys will brief the client company and allow them to negotiate on their own. The strategy taken by counsel and the client is generally guided by certain principles.

The attorneys may arrange a face-to-face meeting between the companies. This is a helpful technique in finding a common ground. It is said to be like mediation, which is a form of alternative dispute resolution that calls for an informal process of discussions in front of a neutral judge. In mediation, the neutral judge is more of an observer who casually steers the participants into finding common ground.

One guiding concern is the importance of the relationship between the disputing companies. An experienced business litigation lawyer in Louisiana will assist the client company in retaining that relationship. The seasoned attorney will be very mindful of preserving the client's ongoing relationship with the other business where such business is an essential element of the company's revenues or other vital operating resources.

Source: fuelfix.com, "Think before you sue: Tips for resolving oil and gas disputes", Kathy Silver, June 2, 2017

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