When there is more than one owner to a business, disputes are bound to happen. The severity of that dispute can affect the prosperity of the business and all those who work for it. Ideally, the business will have an operating agreement or bylaws that provide a process for dealing with or resolving disputes. However, all too often a business ownership dispute occurs between two or more business owners who never prepared an operating agreement or buy-sell agreement. Ohio has a set of default rules in the Ohio Revised Code that provides for the rights and responsibilities of business owners in the absence of an operating agreement or corporate bylaws. However, most of the time the "default" rule in Ohio does not provide for any sort of dispute resolution process.
What To Do When You Have a Business Ownership Dispute
If the owners of the business cannot resolve the dispute amongst themselves, then the next step would be to retain a business dispute attorney. Attorney Evan T. Engler is an experienced business dispute and incorporation attorney at the Columbus, Ohio based law firm of Harris & Engler. The first thing an attorney will do will be to look to the business' governing charter or bylaws to see if there is a process for resolution there. If the business does not have a buy-sell agreement, then the attorney could draft a new buy-sell agreement for the business owners to determine how and when each owner will be able to sell their ownership stake.
Otherwise, a business dispute attorney would want to meet with one of the owners to determine what their goals are. Is the goal to sell your ownership stake and get out of the business? Is the goal to try to get the other owner/s to sell their ownership stake and get out of the business? Is the goal to resolve the current dispute and get a set of rules in place for dealing with future disputes? The set of actions that a business owner will take will depend on the desired ultimate outcome.
Solutions to Your Business Ownership Disputes
There is usually always a solution to your business dispute problem. To a certain extent, it depends on how far you are willing to go to obtain a solution. Most business ownership disputes have to do with money or power. Power in the direction and control of the company and money in compensation, dividend distribution, or buy out price. The complexity of your solution depends on the personalities of the individuals involved and on the complexity of the problem. If the owners are at least open to trying to work out a solution amongst themselves or amongst themselves and the attorneys involved, then that is a good start. If some of the owners have their heels dug in and are unwilling to make any compromise on their position, then you are more likely to have to go to Court to try to get your solution. The legal process can be long process, but if the business owners cannot otherwise work out a negotiated resolution then a Judge or Jury will eventually issue an order on the contested issue. A court has the power to take virtually any action that would be necessary to resolve a business ownership dispute, including forcing the buy-out of certain shares or the dissolution and sale of the company. In order to get yourself past the ownership and control disputes you need the guided hand of an experienced business dispute attorney to arrive at a range of potential solutions.
Columbus, Ohio Based Business and Business Ownership Dispute Law Firm