By Business and Civil Law Attorney Danielle Bullock
When dealing with Businesses, there are some issues that arise more often than others. Below are a few tips for operating a business in Florida:
1. Do I need a contract?
If it isn’t in writing, it doesn’t exist. Always make sure that your agreement is in writing and read, read, read! Before you sign any document, read it. If you do not understand something, DON’T sign it. If you do not agree with even a tiny portion of the document, DON’T sign it.
2. I was served with a lawsuit, what now?
If you are served with a lawsuit, you must respond within the time stated on the summons, usually twenty (20) days. If you don’t, then the person suing you will automatically win. If your business is sued then you must retain an attorney to represent you unless it is in small claims court.
3. How long do I have to decide whether I want to file a lawsuit?
There is a statute of limitations that applies to different types of cases, i.e. you have a certain time period in which you can file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations for Florida may be found in Florida Statutes §95.11 and varies from one (1) year to five (5) years dependent on the type of matter.
4. Is a landlord allowed to keep the security deposit?
A landlord cannot keep a tenant’s security deposit without first giving the tenant written notice of his or her intent to impose a claim of the security deposit along with the reason for imposing the claim. This notice must comply with Florida Statute Chapter 83.
5. Can I break my lease?
In the event that the tenant or the landlord breaches the lease agreement, the party breaking the lease must give the other party notice pursuant to Florida Statutes, and pursuant to the lease agreement. Please note that the type of notice necessary varies depending on each individual situation.
6. If I hire an attorney, can I get my attorney’s fees back from the other party?
This will depend on the type of case that you have. Attorney fees either have to be provided for by statute or an expressed provision in contract. Just because you filed a lawsuit does not mean that you will be able to get your attorney’s fees back from the other party.
7. What are the basic provisions of non-compete agreements and does my business need one?
Basic provisions of a non-compete agreement should include geographic specificity and a set duration of time not to exceed two years. Without these basic provisions, a non-compete will be invalid and unenforceable. Speak with an attorney to discuss whether it is necessary for your business to employ a non-compete agreement as this varies greatly based upon the type of business.
8. What is the purpose of a confidentiality agreement?
It is important if you own and operate a business to have a valid and enforceable confidentiality agreement to protect your interests and trade secrets.
Most importantly, it is always advisable to speak with an attorney in order to discuss your unique situation as it relates to your business or business structure.