Frequently Asked Questions About Business And Corporate Law


What is business litigation?

Business litigation is the resolution by a third party, usually a judge or a jury, of a dispute involving business law. You may want to look at my business law practice area for what I mean by that, as opposed to a corporate litigation matter. Business litigation then would be a court fight over any of the areas of business law, including but not limited to those listed on the Business Law page. The fight could take any of the common forms of business litigation disputes listed above, some of which I describe further below.


What is business law?

By "business law," I mean those parts of the law that apply to the external operations of the business, including its operations with its customers, its suppliers and its employees.


What is corporate law?

By "corporate law," I mean those parts of the law that apply to the creation, functioning and termination of the legal entity that controls the business. Whether a business exists inside the shell of a corporation or a limited liability company would be to me a corporate question. How the shareholders relate to the directors and how the directors work with the officers would be corporate questions.


What is corporate litigation?

Corporate litigation is the resolution by a third party, usually a judge or a jury, of a dispute involving corporate law. Corporate litigation then would be a court fight over any of the areas of corporate law. The fight could take any of the common forms of corporate litigation disputes listed on my Corporate Litigation page, but generally involves fights between and among owners, shareholders, directors and officers.


What is commercial litigation?

To me, grossly oversimplifying, commercial litigation and business litigation tend to intersect but commercial litigation tends to be at the more "routine" end of the litigation spectrum, much akin to business debt collection, where the defendant generally has no defense that he/it should pay, but the defendant cannot pay or chooses not to pay and a judgment must be obtained and judicial enforcement tools — like sheriff's sale — must be brought into play.


What is mediation? What is business mediation or corporate mediation?

Mediation (including business mediation and corporate mediation) is (generally, but read the fine print) a nonbinding effort to help/force parties to a dispute to resolve their argument outside of court. If the third party cannot cause the parties to "reason" their way to a settlement, the parties may simply be able to proceed to court (if a statute of limitations has not expired or rights otherwise already been lost).


What is arbitration? What is business arbitration or corporate arbitration?

Arbitration (including business arbitration and corporate arbitration) is (generally, but read the fine print) a legally binding process to resolve a dispute outside of court. For example, once Maryland regulation describes one form of arbitration in Maryland as follows:

"A general arbitration is a process by which disputes between parties are resolved outside of the court system by an impartial individual after hearing pertinent evidence and argument. Arbitration in Maryland is governed by the Maryland Uniform Arbitration Act, Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, Title 3, Subtitle 2, Annotated Code of Maryland.B. Disputes Subject to Arbitration." See for example: http://www.dsd.state.md.us/comar/SubtitleSearch.aspx?search=02.01.06.

As a general rule, the Maryland Uniform Arbitration Act makes decisions of arbitrators very hard to overturn. Parties to an arbitration may not be happy about the outcome but many business people like a greater degree of certainty, so they can better plan other parts of their business. Appeals from court proceedings can go on for a longer period of time than appeals from arbitration proceedings. Clever attorneys though may change the game in any given case.


What are the court options in Maryland? How do I file a lawsuit?

Maryland is a little quirky and has three trial-level courts: two state trial courts and the federal trial courts: Every county in Maryland has at least one state District Court and one state Circuit Court. There are two locations (Greenbelt and Baltimore) for the United States District Court.

Maryland state District Court: This court includes Small Claims Court. It cannot hear jury trials, and if someone who has the right to a jury trial asks for a jury trial while in District Court, the case may be transferred to the Circuit Court.

Maryland Circuit Court: This court generally handles larger claims and certain claims that cannot be brought in the District Court at all. Some actions must begin in the District Court, though, so having competent counsel to guide you here is key (says the attorney).

United States District Court: When they made up the saying about a small matter "Don't make a federal case out of it," they were saying they thought filing in federal court is a big deal. While many big cases can be filed in state court and some small cases can be filed in federal court, it is important to know which court you are and (probably) should be filing in.

A lawsuit in each of these courts is commenced by filing a "complaint" in the appropriate form with the correct supplemental attachments and the right fees with the clerk of the correct court. Almost nothing but the substance is the same in filings in the three courts and failure to do this right could mean the dismissal of your case.


What are the court options in the District of Columbia? How do I file a lawsuit?

The District of Columbia has two trial-level courts: one "state" trial court and one federal trial court: The "state" trial court is the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

The Superior Court of the District of Columbia: This court includes Small Claims Court.

United States District Court: When they made up the saying about a small matter "Don't make a federal case out of it," they were saying they thought filing in federal court is a big deal. While many big cases can be filed in state court and some small cases can be filed in federal court, it is important to know which court you are and (probably) should be filing in.

A lawsuit in each of these courts is commenced by filing a "complaint" in the appropriate form with the correct supplemental attachments and the right fees with the clerk of the correct court. Almost nothing but the substance is the same in filings in the two courts and failure to do this right could mean the dismissal of your case.

You can reach us by telephone at our convenient, comfortable offices in Bethesda at 240-483-0725 or via email.

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Daniel S. Willard, P.C.
9401 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20814

Phone: 301-304-4972
Phone: 240-483-0725
Fax: 240-483-0726
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