Jeff Morris Mediation

 

 

Partner disputes and business shareholder conflicts

  We are dedicated to assisting your business to move past and resolve any dispute or legal action involving family business members or unrelated business partners and shareholders. This includes the following matters:

  • business dissolution or breakup
  • sale of interest or shares
  • valuation of business interests
  • compensation disputes
  • major business decision disagreements
  • low productivity problems
  • expense account issues
  • capital injection requirements
  • banking concerns
  • budget or sales problems
  • partner health/addiction issues
  • unauthourized decisions or expenditures
  • anger

  Selecting an experienced business mediator and former commercial lawyer to help resolve the problem early on is an important step one can take, both financially and personally.

How can we Help?

  Our professional service offers a neutral, independent process which enables partners to explore complex and sometimes difficult issues in a productive manner.    

  We understand that confronting issues is a difficult task, and that you and your business partner may feel differently about how matters should be addressed. Sometimes partners have different feelings about or expectations for the business, that for instance, one partner may be more enthusiastic or at happy with the situation than the other. Sometimes the partners have decided to separate because they can't see "eye to eye" or there is a situation where one partner is forced out.

  Business partners can find it easier to discuss the issues and to say the things they need to say in front of a third party mediator who can help facilitate the discussion, without it turning into a heated argument or fight.

  My approach is to be neutral, without picking who is right and who is wrong. I will offer a third point of view in order to help the partners see the situation more clearly and to help resolve the problem.

When to Begin this Process

  It’s really best to deal with issues early on. Over time, constant disagreements and anger can cause wear and tear and the inability to work together productively. As time passes, recovery becomes more difficult. When business partners are not able to resolve conflicts, the anger, whether spoken or unspoken, soon turns into hard feelings.  Left unattended, the working relationship erodes, often to the point where the partners feel they need to break up the business partnership or that one partner has to leave the business.

  The good news is it’s never too late to begin the process, whether it is about having an orderly buyout or sale of a partnership interest or trying to "mend the fences" to continue to work together.

Is there any obligation if I call?

  Absolutely not. Please feel free to call and chat about how we can help your situation.  If it’s right for you and your partners, it’s easy to book a convenient session during the day, evenings or weekends to begin the process towards a settlement or resultion. Call us at 416.518.8774.

HOW TO RESOLVE
PARTNERSHIP AND FAMILY-BUSINESS DISPUTES

   Growing up in a family business that was filled with constant disagreements and tension taught me one thing – left unresolved it can be destructive, not only to the health of the business but to the partners as well. When partners are distracted by conflict, they have less time and energy to focus on the business. And stress from an unhappy partnership can also be a catalyst for harmful habits, marriage breakdown and even a heart attack.
   Every partnership gets stuck at one time or another over thorny issues. How money gets paid out for salary, profits or expenses is a common source of hard feelings.  Resentment builds when there is a perception that a partner is not pulling his or her weight.  Trouble erupts when the partners have differing visions for the company, such as not seeing eye-to-eye on turf issues, succession, new ventures and taking on new partners.
  If the partnership involves family, the challenges can be even greater and more complicated.  Past family troubles, patterns and loyalties are often introduced into the mix.
  How can you best handle ongoing disagreements with your business partners?  First, you need to try to talk to your partners.  Often this doesn’t happen because people have a hard time dialoging about sensitive issues.  Talking can also be difficult if there is built-up resentment, anger or fear about the situation.
  If you can’t get past the problem on your own, then look for a professional business conflict resolution specialist or mediator.  The mediator is an impartial third party who helps partners negotiate common ground between their opposing positions.    
  How does business conflict resolution work?  Mediation is a structured meeting where the issues driving the conflict are first identified.    The professional’s role is then to facilitate the creation of options for the partners to work together productively. The business mediator does not impose any decision on the parties.  Unlike court litigation or arbitration, the partners have the final say in an outcome they

can agree to.
   Sometimes the biggest challenge is to get the partners or family members to “buy-in” to a mediation process. For mediation to work it must be voluntary and the partners should be open to talking about why they are dissatisfied with the current situation and be committed to some level of change.
   Understanding the advantages of mediation can help the partners readily accept this dispute resolution option.  After all, the alternative of doing nothing can mean a costly breakup and even the loss of the business.  
    Partners need to know that mediations can be completed quickly whereas disputes in the legal arena might take years.  And mediation is cost effective compared to the expense of a legal battle. Legal proceedings are also open to the public and media, whereas mediation is completely confidential. 
   For partnership disputes, mediation offers broad and flexible solutions to deal with the business and relationship issues.  Courts on the other hand, are limited to awarding money to redress a legal wrong. More important, the solutions developed with the help of a professional business mediator are comprehensive and structured to resolve the conflict once and for all.
     Ideally, select a business mediator who not only understands the complexities of the immediate problem at hand, but who has the training and experience to help the partners develop better communication and repair their strained relations. Some professional firms have mediators who have a mix of interdisciplinary skills, such as law, business and psychology.         
   Mediation is fast becoming the best option for resolving conflicts among partners. It is now widely accepted as an effective tool to resolve partnership issues early on before they ripen into a legal problem.
  Jeff Morris, LL.B. is a partner in the mediation firm Morris & Hirscheimer and works with family and non-family businesses. The firm has a wealth of experience and background in law, management, finance and psychology.


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