What is Commercial Litigation? Commercial Litigation Explained

Engaging in commercial litigation can be daunting when you lack the right resources. The commercial litigation practice area is extensive and the attorneys who engage in this practice area have dedicated themselves to their craft. Relying on resources such as this one can help you to develop a better understanding of what commercial litigation entails as well as how to prepare yourself for engaging in commercial litigation.

What is Commercial Litigation?

To put it most simply, civil litigation is a lawsuit between individuals, where criminal charges are not involved. Any time there are two or more parties involved in a non-criminal legal dispute, what results is considered to be civil litigation. Typically, in civil litigation the parties are suing to enforce or to defend a legal right, and the suing party (the Plaintiff) is seeking to be compensated with either money damages or some action (specific performance.)

A commercial dispute results when one or more of these parties is a business entity such as a partnership or a corporation. Commercial and corporate litigation possess both similarities and differences as compared to traditional civil litigation matters. Understanding the definition of a commercial dispute, and what commercial disputes are, will help clarify those similarities and differences.

Commercial litigation and other types of civil litigation typically proceed in the same way. The Plaintiff retains an attorney, both sides conduct factual investigations, attorneys on both sides research applicable law, engage in settlement negotiations, the Plaintiff’s attorney files the lawsuit, both sides conduct discovery, participate in motion practice, go before a judge or jury to try the case, file motions post-trial, and whatever else may be required depending on the specific case. 

Examples of Commercial Litigation :

There are many different types of commercial litigation cases, shown below. Although this list is by no means exhaustive, all of the following types of cases fall under the umbrella of commercial litigation and would be best handled by a commercial litigator.

• Antitrust Cases

• Aviation Disputes

• Bad Faith Cases

• Breach of Contract Actions

• Breach of Duty Cases

• Business Torts

• Class Action Lawsuits

• Construction Cases

• Debtor or Creditor Actions

• Derivative Actions

• Employment Cases

• Fraud Actions

• Insurance Coverage Cases

• Intellectual Property (IP) and Patent Infringement Cases

• Labor Cases

• LLC Membership Disputes

• Misrepresentation Actions

• Product Liability Claims

• Securities Litigation

• Shareholder Issues

• Tax Disputes

• Tortious Interference

• Trade Secret Lawsuits

• Unfair Competition Actions

What Do Commercial Litigators Do?

A commercial litigation attorney is specifically educated, trained, and experienced in litigation aimed at businesses and business-related litigation. Such a lawyer’s role will imply various specific responsibilities depending on if they are tasked with representing a commercial client or an individual in such a case.

How is Commercial Litigation Different from Other Types of Litigation?

The primary difference that commercial and corporate litigation brings over other types of litigation is simply who is involved in the litigation. Because there are businesses involved in the litigation, the issues involved also tend to be more complex or more specialized than with traditional civil litigation as well. Many commercial litigation cases are filed federally rather than in state court, and some are class action lawsuits or multi-district lawsuits depending on the number of involved parties or the types of parties involved.

Due to the nature of commercial litigation, it is common for such cases to be more expensive. This is because certain steps of the litigation process, namely discovery and the use of forensic experts, tend to be more extensive in a commercial dispute than in non-commercial litigation matters.

The distinction between civil litigation and the definition of a commercial dispute is party identification. However, as noted before, certain areas of law are inherent to the commercial litigation practice area based on the parties involved such as those listed above.

Common Types of Litigation

There are many different types of litigation, but some are more common than others.

Civil Litigation: Simply put, civil litigation is a broad area of practice describing legal disputes between two or more parties seeking a monetary settlement instead of criminal sanctions.

Commercial Litigation: Commercial or business litigation is civil litigation involving one or more business entities as parties. Typically, the area of law being litigated is specialized due to the nature of the parties involved.

Mesothelioma Litigation: This is another specialized form of commercial litigation which focuses on litigating between individuals exposed to cancer-causing asbestos and the companies who may have knowingly exposed those individuals.

Patent Litigation: Patent litigation is another form of commercial or business litigation, focusing on legal disputes between two parties when one party’s trademark or patent has been purportedly infringed upon by another. Patent litigation is typically litigated by highly specialized attorneys who have not only a law degree but also a degree in engineering or a related field.

• Personal Injury Litigation: This is a type of civil litigation that involves parties seeking legal remedies following an accident or similar injury. The aggrieved party may be suing another individual or a business depending on who was deemed responsible for the injury.

• Public Interest Litigation: This type of litigation involves a court initiating a lawsuit for the protection or maintenance of a community’s well-being. Public interest litigation may center on environmental law or issues, public health concerns, or similar topics.

Civil and Commercial Litigation

Most commercial litigation will fall into areas of civil litigation due to the nature of the types of claims that arise between individuals and businesses. There are also situations where members of a business may be brought up on charges and pursued criminally, however it is likely that when wrongdoing occurs it will also result in civil litigation matters.

There are many different types of litigation, as noted throughout this guide. Commercial litigation and civil litigation share many similarities with the main difference being the parties involved. When commercial entities are involved in the litigation the subject of the litigation is also likely to become more complex in nature as well.

Some examples of common, yet complex, types of commercial litigation include:

Antitrust Litigation: This type of litigation handles allegations that the business practices of a company are not in compliance with competition regulations. Antitrust litigation may be either civil or criminal in nature (or both).

Breach of Contract: If an individual or a company fails to uphold a promise made in a legally binding contract with another, then the result is a civil proceeding. Anyone aggrieved in a contract action can bring a breach of contract suit against another.

Consumer Class Action Lawsuits: Class action lawsuits involve a group of similarly situated individuals bringing a group lawsuit against someone who harmed them. Some examples include situations where defective products or privacy violations harmed several people in the same way.

Corporate and Commercial Litigation: There are many situations where an individual may bring suit against a business entity or the other way around. A commercial litigation attorney will be best prepared to handle such a lawsuit.

IP Litigation: Patent litigation may involve patent infringement, trademark infringement, or copyright infringement. An intellectual property attorney may represent the aggrieved party or the defending party in such litigation.

• Regulation Issues: When a company does not follow the regulations of their industry, both civil and criminal sanctions may result. Many regulatory practice area attorneys focus on one specific industry such as the environmental or energy industry.

• Securities Litigation: Securities litigation involves disputes between issuers of securities and the individuals who invest in them.

How Today’s Market is Impacting Commercial Litigation

The legal landscape is constantly shifting as a result of changes in political administrations, rules and regulations, the economy, court appointments, and the law as a whole. The commercial litigation environment is constantly evolving and must adapt and change. As the market changes and technology changes, the commercial litigation field must also adapt.

What is clear is that there will always be a need for commercial litigation even as commerce evolves. With new and emerging technologies, the law has adapted, and plaintiffs have found new causes to litigate such as patent infringement and breach of online contract. High tech companies are growing significantly and playing a larger role in the growth of the commercial litigation practice area. These are the companies most likely to engage in high-risk and high-dollar litigation because of the nature of the subject matter. Often it is the intellectual property, trade secrets, or big-dollar contracts of the company at stake when engaging in these lawsuits.

While there may be changes in client focuses in the coming years, and while civil and commercial litigation firms may be expected to evolve with emerging technologies, what is clear is that the commercial litigation practice area is one that is going to grow rather than shrink.

How to Respond to a Commercial Dispute

There is no simple commercial dispute, but they are unfortunately a part of reality. When faced with a commercial dispute, especially in its earliest stages, the best course of action is to look into a commercial litigation attorney who can help settle the issue before it becomes more complex or costly. A large amount of civil and commercial litigation settles out of court before trial and the key to a cost- and time-effective settlement is having the right commercial litigation attorney in your corner.