By Commercial and Civil Litigation Attorney Danielle Bullock
In law, as with every industry, there are some questions asked more often than others. Below are the top ten questions asked by people about commercial litigation:
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.
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. My tenant damaged the rental property, can I 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 §83.49
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?
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.
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.
9. Why are some commercial cases tried in a Federal Court?
Federal court may be an option if your matter involves federal law(s) or federal programs; if the matter involved the U.S. government; or if the parties are citizens of two of more states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.
10. What are the differences between mediation and arbitration?
Mediation and arbitration are alternate dispute resolutions which may allow you to resolve your matter more expediently. Arbitration is binding and a ruling is made by a third party. Mediation is more informal and allows for the parties to come to a mutually agreeable compromise.