Disputes with customers require a tactful approach. While companies must give due consideration to protecting their business relationships and their bottom lines, they must also take appropriate legal action as and when necessary.
When facing a dispute with a customer, what is the best approach? Should you ignore the issue in order to protect the revenue stream? Should you part ways? Should you litigate in order to send a message that non-compliance will not be tolerated? Or, should your company’s approach fall somewhere in between?
Regardless of the specific factual circumstances and legal issues involved, disputes with customers require a tactful approach. They also generally need to be approached on a case-by-case basis. How important is the relationship? How egregious is the issue that has come to light? What is the likelihood of amicably negotiating a mutually-agreeable result, and what are your company’s chances of success in litigation? These are just a few of the numerous questions that will need to be answered in order to make an informed and strategic decision.
Business Litigation Counsel for Disputes with Customers
At Oberheiden P.C., we represent companies of all sizes and in all industries in disputes with their customers. We represent companies in settlement negotiations and other informal resolution efforts, and we serve as litigation counsel for high-stakes disputes in state and federal court. With a highly-experienced team of in-house senior attorneys and local affiliated counsel in cities across the country, we are available when and where our clients need us, and we rely on our attorneys’ notable business litigation experience to help our clients achieve efficient and positive outcomes.
These are just some of the ways in which we help our clients favorably resolve disputes with their customers:
- Critical Risk Assessment – When companies come to us seeking help in relation to customer disputes, we first conduct a critical risk assessment focused on the financial, legal, and practical issues at hand. We work quickly to gather all pertinent information and assess all pertinent details, and then we offer strategic guidance taking into consideration the potential outcomes of all likely scenarios.
- Strategic Settlement Negotiations – If it is in your company’s best interests to preserve the customer relationship but some form of response is necessary, our attorneys can engage in settlement negotiations on your company’s behalf. Several of our senior attorneys are trained negotiators (including founding attorney Nick Oberheiden, PhD, who trained in negotiation at Harvard Law School), and allowing our attorneys to handle the direct negotiations can help preserve your company’s personal relationships with the client’s key stakeholders.
- Evaluation of Litigation Risks and Opportunities – If litigation is a possibility, our attorneys will assess all associated risks and opportunities, including the likelihood of success of all potential claims and defenses. If necessary, we can pursue litigation on your company’s behalf, and we will tailor our litigation strategy to the particular circumstances at hand.
- Speaking the Customer’s Language – We mean this both literally and figuratively. We have experience representing clients as compliance and defense counsel in a broad range of industries, and our attorneys are familiar with the terminology and substantive issues involved in all types of business disputes. Additionally, our attorneys speak more than 10 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Urdu, Tagalog, and Hausa.
- Focusing on the Long-Term Perspective – When dealing with a customer-related dispute, it is important to focus on the long-term perspective. While companies cannot sacrifice their core principles and growth objectives in order to appease customers in the short-term, companies must also balance the need to address contractual breaches and other legal issues with the need to preserve valuable customer relationships for the future.
Types of Customer Disputes We Handle
We represent companies in all types of legal disputes with their customers. As a client of Oberheiden P.C., you will work directly with our firm’s senior attorneys in all aspects of our representation (we do not employ junior associates or paralegals), and you will be able to utilize the services of our former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents as necessary to investigate claims by and against your company’s customers.
We offer strategic advice, representation, and investigative services for customer disputes involving:
Non-Payment for Goods or Services
If a customer is behind on its payment obligations, this can present a direct and immediate risk to your company’s bottom line. If the customer relationship has already ended (i.e. if your company has fully provided the goods or services it was contracted to provide), then pursuing a collection action could be a relatively straightforward matter. However, if your company has, and wishes to maintain, an ongoing relationship with the customer, then deciding what steps to take will require a more-strategic assessment of the circumstances at hand.
Allegations of Contractual Non-Performance
If a customer is accusing your company of failing to meet its contractual obligations, deciding what to do next first requires a thorough and unbiased assessment of the veracity of the customer’s claim. Our attorneys can determine if the customer’s allegations have merit; and, if they do, we can help you begin working toward an amicable resolution. If the customer’s allegations are misguided, we can engage with the customer’s legal counsel to demonstrate that further legal action is unwarranted.
Allegations of Service Level Agreement (SLA) Violations
Many customers will demand that their supplier contracts include service level agreements (SLAs). These SLAs are often driven by businesspeople and procurement officers rather than the companies’ attorneys; and, as such, it is not uncommon for SLAs to leave open questions regarding their intent and enforceability. If your company is facing a customer dispute involving the enforcement of SLAs, we can help you decide on an appropriate course of action, and we can take any and all necessary legal steps on your company’s behalf.
License violations will often require swift legal action, as non-enforcement of licensees’ contractual restrictions can possibly lead to the loss of exclusive intellectual property (IP) rights. We represent licensors of all types of IP assets, including software, media, trademarks, patented processes, and business methods, and we handle matters involving end user license agreements (EULAs), negotiated licensing agreements, and other contracts.
Commercial real estate, vehicle, and equipment lease disputes can involve a broad range of issues. We represent lessors in the enforcement of lease terms and covenants, and we assist lessors in terminating leases and repossessing leased assets when necessary.
Representation and Warranty Claims
In contract disputes, customers will often assert claims based on companies’ representations and warranties. If a representation or warranty is drafted too broadly or is insufficiently clear with respect to the scope of its application, it can potentially present a liability risk in customer litigation. However, companies will often have valid defenses to representation and warranty claims, and at Oberheiden P.C. we are experienced in helping companies overcome claims for contractual liability.
Indemnification and Insurance Coverage Demands
Indemnification and insurance coverage claims can flow both ways in disputes between companies and their customers. If a customer is refusing to indemnify your company for a third-party claim arising out of the customer’s negligence or other wrongdoing, or if a customer is seeking indemnification or insurance coverage for a claim for which your company is not liable, our attorneys can work to efficiently attain an appropriate result.
Attempts to Terminate Customer Contracts
Disputes arising in relation to attempts to terminate customer contracts can present unique challenges, and they tend to be relatively contentious by nature. In disputes involving contract termination, we help our clients enforce their contractual rights, including seeking payment for lost rent, lost future royalties, and other financial losses as appropriate.
Contract Transfer and Renewal Disputes
Disputes can also arise in relation to attempts to transfer and renew customers’ agreements. Typically, transfer and renewal will be subject to specific contractual conditions, and disputes will often involve questions of whether all pertinent conditions have been satisfied. Customers seeking to avoid compliance with these conditions may allege a bad-faith refusal to transfer or renew, and our attorneys are experienced in handling these types of disputes as well.
Corporate Defamation, Boycotts, and Other Issues
We also provide representation for customer disputes that have the potential for significant reputational harm and loss of goodwill, including cases of corporate defamation, attempts to implement boycotts, social media misinformation campaigns, and other similar types of matters. If a customer is intentionally attempting to cause harm to your company, our attorneys can take swift and decisive action to combat the effort and secure emergency injunctive relief in court.
Is your company facing a dispute with one of its customers? If so, the senior business litigation attorneys at Oberheiden P.C. can help. Contact us 24/7 for a complimentary case assessment.
Speak with a Senior Business Litigation Attorney at Oberheiden P.C.
If you would like to speak with an attorney at Oberheiden P.C. about a customer dispute, we encourage you to contact us today. You can reach us by phone 24/7 at 888-680-1745, or send us your contact information and an attorney will be in touch shortly.