Disputes over a family business can be particularly challenging to resolve, with both the commercial aspects of the situation and the family dynamic to consider. Getting expert legal help from a team with specific expertise in family business dispute resolution is vital.

At Debenhams Ottaway, our litigation team regularly works with all types of family businesses, big and small, to resolve even the most complex disputes. Our priority is to secure the best outcome for you and your business, while protecting important family relationships wherever possible.

We are pragmatic and creative in our approach, finding solutions that match the unique nature of each individual dispute. Wherever possible, we will seek a solution outside of court proceedings, but we are ready to fight your corner if an amicable resolution cannot be achieved.

Our family dispute resolution expertise

Disputes over family business decisions

If family members cannot agree on key decisions about the business, it can cause huge issues, from business activities and growth plans stalling to the complete failure of the business in the most extreme cases.

These types of disputes can often be headed off with a well-drafted shareholders’ agreement that clearly sets out how such decisions will be made. However, where this is not enough to avoid a dispute, it is important to seek early advice and support to prevent a minor disagreement turning into a major roadblock to the business’s future success.

Our family dispute resolution solicitors can advise you on options for resolving such disputes, including private negotiation and mediation where appropriate. We can also help with getting in place and revising shareholders’ agreements where necessary to minimise the risk of such disagreements disrupting your business in the future.

Succession disputes

A common source of disputes is over the succession of leadership from one generation to the next. There are often disagreements over who will take the reins of the business, as well as issues such as how family members not involved in the business should be accounted for.

Our team are experts in succession planning, so can help you make the right decisions in advance over how the running of your business should transition to the next generation. Where a dispute has arisen over a family business succession, we can step in and work with all concerned to find an amicable solution that protects the future of the business.

Family businesses and divorce

Divorce can represent a serious threat to family businesses. It may be that two spouses run a business together and their separation could threaten the future of the business or it may be that the value of one spouse’s interest in a family business needs to be considered in the divorce settlement.

Where a divorce has the potential to negatively impact a family business, our team can work with you to agree the best way forward. Our family business dispute resolution experts can advise on your options, including how to establish a successful working relationship post-divorce or one spouse exiting the business smoothly.

See how we can help with divorce.

How our family business disputes solicitors can help you

Clear advice on your legal position and options

There can often be significant confusion over different family members’ legal positions, especially where things have not been clearly documented. Our team can work with you to review any written agreements in place and advise on the relevant legal statutes, so we can provide a clear picture of where you stand.

Once your legal position is established, we can discuss your options with you, with a focus on protecting your interests and achieving your priorities. This way, you can be confident that any decisions you make have a sound legal basis and have the best chance of getting you the outcome you seek.

Seeking an early resolution for your family business dispute

When dealing with a family business dispute, it is usually best if the situation can be resolved quickly and quietly without unnecessary conflict. This is an area where our team excels.

With strong skills in negotiation and alternative dispute resolution we can give you the best chance of securing an amicable agreement without the need for court proceedings. This not only saves you time and money, but it minimises the potential for a family business dispute to turn nasty and lead to long-term damage to key family relationships.

Options include constructive negotiation and mediation, which can be very effective for family business disputes. Giving different family members the chance to air their concerns in a safe environment can help not only to deal with the current situation, but also to encourage better understanding between family members and avoid future disputes.

Taking a family business dispute to court

Sadly, in some cases, court proceedings are the only way to deal with a family business dispute. Should this prove to the be case, you need to make sure you have the best possible legal support in your corner.

Our team have extensive experience with court proceedings, so can give the strongest chance of success. We will be by your side at every stage, making sure your case is prepared effectively and that you have excellent representation for any hearings that take place.

We will always be realistic about your chances of success and will never advise taking a private equity dispute to court unless we honestly believe this is in your best interests.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of court proceedings, we can advise you on your right to appeal and work with you through the appeals process.

Get in touch with our family business disputes solicitors in St Albans, Hertfordshire

Our lawyers have legal expertise, commercial know-how and the sensitive, personal approach needed to successfully navigate the most complex family business disputes.

If you need assistance with a family business dispute, please contact us today.

We have local offices in St Albans and Radlett and we regularly help family businesses from across the wider Hertfordshire area and London.