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Welcome to the Law Blog for NORTHSHORE LEGAL LLC. This Blog will address various issues in business, real estate and litigation.
Partnerships are difficult endeavors for the majority of business owners and investors. Informal (or handshake or gentlemans' / ladies' agreements) are sometimes ordinary practice when two or more individuals decide to enter into a joint business venture. When going into business with a relative, long time friend, or work colleague, it may appear to be a good idea to rely on these types of informal agreements, however, when problems arise for the business or the individuals partners individually, that close relationship may be relegated to irrelevance.
Most, if not all, Massachusetts legal practitioners would recommend against informal partnerships, and instruct their client to form a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Unless a formal entity is registered in Massachusetts and unless the partners decide to conduct business under the LLC, both partners will be personally liable for the debts and liabilities of the partnership. In other words, if the partners incur debt or face the prospect of a legal claim, each partner will put at risk their own personal assets and income. Also, what happens if one partner commits an unlawful act or injuries another party in commerce, and is subject to litigation? Without any form of limited liability, the other partners will also be liable for those actions.
Additionally, what happens when the partners decide to part ways, and when there is a dispute over ownership, buyout, rights to intellectual property, or continuing use of customer lists, or other goodwill? What happens if the partners are unclear about the management and/or daily duties, time commitment, financial investment requirements, or transfer of ownership?
Without some type of legal entity structure or written partnerships agreement, informal business partnerships may expose partners to unnecessary (and costly) liabilities and litigation. If you are considering forming a new business partnership in the Boston and North Shore areas of Massachusetts, please contact the Law Office of Stefan Cencarik, PLLC at 617-669-9780 for a consultation.
Closely held Massachusetts corporations (or often referred to as closely held business) are typically entities that are controlled and owned by a small, limited number of persons. Closely held corporations are often associated with a family business (a/k/a family owned business) and the concept has expanded to include small groups of partners who were at one point friends, colleagues, or co-workers. A typical closely held business is controlled by a select group of persons who play a significant role on the board of directors and as key manager of the company. The affairs of a closely held business are private, and ownership interests are not publicly traded.
The downside of closely held businesses is that they very frequently entail disputes among the owners. One recent example of the severe issues that a closely held business can face is the recent dispute in 2014 involving Market Basket. This popular supermarket chain operates approximately 75 stores in New England, and was primarily owned by two cousins. An internal dispute arose among the primary shareholders and key board of director members that led to a very public dispute regarding control and ownership of the entity.
This is one example of where disputes can arise when shareholders disagree on the control, discretion and decisions of the board members and officers. Shareholders can also be dissatisfied with the amount of profits earned by the company, as well as question the decisions of the Board and officer that caused the company’s poor financial performance. Or in other situations, if a company is being sold or liquidated, the shareholders may have concerns about the valuation of the company and how shareholders will be treated. And finally, significant issues can arise when an owner wants to exit the business and decides to sell his or her stock.
The Law Office of Stefan Cencarik, PLLC handles various business litigation and disputes, and provides related consulting services, mostly involving closely held businesses. Rather filing a lawsuit, it is best to initially explore various dispute resolution alternatives, such as informal negotiation and mediation. If you are experiencing issues with a closely held business, please contact an experienced and skilled business lawyer at 617-669-9780.