Closely Held Business Disputes Between Owners

Many business owners have no plans to offer shares of stock in their company to the public, but still want to reap the benefits of the corporate business structure. Many states allow the creation of a particular type of corporation, known as a “closely-held” corporation. Other businesses, including corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs), may have many of the features of a closely-held corporation without a separate legal category. When disputes arise between owners of a closely-held business, they can threaten the continued daily operations of the business, thereby threatening its future. Even seemingly mild disagreements can grow and jeopardize the business. An experienced Chicago business dispute attorney can assist an owner in a dispute, or can help the business owners find an amicable resolution to their dispute, with an eye towards maintaining business operations.

Closely-Held Corporations

The number of owners in a closely-held business generally number in the single to double digits. The Internal Revenue Service defines a “closely-held corporation” in part as a corporation in which no more than five individuals own over half of the outstanding stock. Laws governing closely-held corporations vary from state to state, with some states counting them among other corporations rather than as a separate business form. States that recognize closely-held corporations as a distinct type of entity may have restrictions on the issuance or transfer or stock, such as a requirement that a departing shareholder sell stock back to the corporation. These restrictions may play an important role in how owners handle disputes among themselves.

Disputes Within Closely-Held Corporations

The rights of minority shareholders, who may assert claims against the majority in certain situations, form the basis of many disputes within closely-held businesses. Other disputes may arise with regard to business operations, employment, compensation decisions, sale of the stock of a divorcing owner, purchase or sale of real estate or other assets, tax issues, or matters pertaining to bankruptcy. Our business dispute lawyers can guide Chicago clients through any of these complicated situations.

Dispute Resolution for Closely-Held Corporations

Owners of a closely-held business should seriously consider submitting company disputes to alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Our team of business lawyers includes several trained and certified mediators and arbitrators. These procedures allow business owners to keep their disputes private, as ADR proceedings take place outside of the court system and are not matters of public record. ADR can also be faster than litigation, as it does not depend on the overburdened courts’ schedules. Finally, the expense of ADR may be significantly less than the costs commonly associated with litigation.

Litigation of Closely-Held Corporation Disputes

Business owners cannot always resolve their disputes outside of court, and our team has extensive experience guiding clients through the court system. While litigation can be a long and drawn-out process, some business disputes require quick action. Emergency litigation measures like temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, and declaratory judgments can help business owners preserve their rights and protect the business.

The Chicago business dispute lawyers of Lubin Austermuehle, P.C. represent companies throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, particularly in the greater Chicago area and DuPage County. For more than twenty-five years, we have assisted owners of closely-held businesses assert their rights and resolve disputes. Contact us today via email, at 833-306-4933, or locally at 630-333-0333 to schedule a consultation with a business dispute attorney in Chicago or Elmhurst, Illinois.

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