Dispute Management

Some of the largest and best-known family businesses in Canada have ended up in litigation or threatened litigation.  Tragically these household names and many others have had their businesses and their families torn apart by messy situations that ended up in the hands of litigation lawyers. 

As owners of Equitas and as lawyers, we believe there is something wrong if the best the legal profession can do is to fight for a client’s share of the “family pie”.  This belief led us to discover that there were very few professionals whose job it was to be proactive in this regard.  There was no shortage of advisors to help protect and grow people’s liquid assets, but very few to protect and grow what is often the most valuable asset of all – the family business.  Being able to help prevent these kinds of messy, costly and destructive break-ups is one of the key reasons why Equitas was created.

An example of where our expertise helps prevent lawsuits is in the area of Ownership Transitions.  With Equitas’ owners’ experience as business lawyers, we know that not having a proper shareholders agreement sometimes leads to “oppression remedy” litigation where an aggrieved next-generation family member can go to court to have his or her share of the business liquidated.  As a result, we help design the framework of a shareholders agreement which then gets put to paper and severely reduces the likelihood of future litigation.

Another example is where next-generation family members own a business and want out while others want to stay in.  The family business lawyer cannot get involved in this as he or she must remain impartial so what often happens is that the lawyer recommends that each family member hires their own lawyers.  Equitas provides an alternative to that situation by facilitating discussions between the parties and making recommendations designed to arrive at a solution that everyone can live with.  Our position of maintaining independence from all family members allows us to be impartial and objective.  

While lawsuit prevention can never be guaranteed at the outset, the chances of a lawsuit occurring can be severely minimized by proper detection, planning, communications and documentation.

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Clients rely on Equitas during times of transition, uncertainty and, in some cases, crisis.