The Transperfect battle (Shawe et al. v. Elting) has been one of the most contentious business divorces in history. Two former romantic partners who quarreled over the details of running their company ended up in court when they couldn’t even agree on selling the company (one partner filed in Delaware for the dissolution of the company, the other vehemently objected). Eventually, the judge in the case ordered the sale of the company and mediation between the parties.

The Transperfect case is a cautionary tale about what happens when conflict escalates in business (and when litigation exacerbates that conflict). It has even inspired a bill that would delay the sale of any company in Delaware for three years to protect employees from being harmed by the effect of a dispute on a business. Whether Transperfect is eventually sold or not, disputes among its owners put it in a far less than ideal position for a sale.

Even more so than marriages, businesses can have temporary lifetimes. Business divorces can be as fractious (or worse) than actual divorces. Therefore, it’s critical when entering into business relationships to build in contingency plans. Preserving relationships can actually shield a company’s profits. Selling at an appropriate time protects owners’ assets, while contention and delay only suspends a rational approach that sustains business advantage. Litigation can mean dirty laundry is aired in public and important trade secrets are revealed, affecting the company’s value.

At Boileau Conflict Solutions, we provide consultation and mediation that avoids litigation and dispute and instead focuses on preserving and strengthening important relationships. In addition to mediation and consultation when ending a business relationship or transaction, we also provide negotiation services, for example “deal mediation”, when parties want to come to an optimum deal (such as the sale or merger of a company) while maintaining good relations. With financial, legal and psychology backgrounds, we apply mathematical, legal and psychological approaches to conflict. We employ game theory, negotiation theory and psychoanalysis to solve complex problems and preserve relationships. In mediation, business agreements should be drafted preventatively and with great clarity, so that in the event of dissolution, a detailed plan will make the transition smooth. If you are entering into a business relationship or business divorce, or need help negotiating a deal, please contact us to see how we can help.

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