3 PerspectivesDecember 19, 2008
The fiscal year ends in just two weeks, and for some reason your client’s auditors keep focusing on that Acme Tool case. It’s been around all year, but somehow they won’t let go of Acme’s claim for punitive damages. You know punitives are out of the question and your opponent probably knows it, too, but accountants aren’t much for hunches. Since the case isn’t ready for settlement, Acme Tool’s claim makes its way to your auditor’s punch list for later discussion. Do you have a choice here?
You don’t have to settle the case to satisfy your accountants, your insurers and everyone else who might be alarmed by how much the other side has claimed. A high-low agreement can help you remove the potential for a runaway if you’re the defendant — and, if you are the plaintiff, you can use a high-low agreement to protect your downside and cover your costs while you focus on the heart of your case.
The High-Low Agreement Defined
In You Can Win by Settling Halfway: Settlement Structures Part I we discussed when it might pay to settle halfway — when you might resolve parts of a More…
Add Your PerspectiveOctober 17, 2008
In You Can Win by Settling Halfway: Settlement Structures Part I, we discussed when it might pay to settle halfway — when you might resolve parts of a dispute to “streamline the matter, limit expenses, and refocus the parties on resolving what’s left.” While Part I outlined several high-level examples of how it works in theory, here’s a successful example to demonstrate how settling halfway can work for you.
What’s Really in Dispute?
I got called into a dispute between my client at the time and a recently departed executive. The former executive disagreed with the compensation he was paid as he left. Like many claims involving former execs, the stakes were high, and the emotions ran higher. Both sides wanted to prove that they were right, and the case would not settle. Once I really understood each side’s position — on the facts and in the broader context — an opportunity to settle halfway began to emerge. More…
Add Your PerspectiveOctober 10, 2008
“If you are going to do a half-ass job, don’t do it at all.” My dad gave me that advice years ago, and I never forgot it. But if you have an important dispute, settling it halfway may be a victory in itself.
“Settling halfway” isn’t complicated; it’s just what the name implies. In disputes where you aren’t ready — or able — to settle the entire case, look for ways to eliminate parts of it to streamline the matter, limit expenses, and refocus the parties on resolving what’s left.
The Idea Behind Settling Halfway
After several years of defending what was then KPMG Consulting, I had one of those “aha” conversations with an outside counsel I really respect. As we brainstormed on how to eliminate some of the inefficiencies inherent to litigation, he reminded me of a difference between our perspectives: in-house litigators are free to ignore “unnecessary rabbit trails,” skip secondary witnesses, and forego tactics that have little likelihood of success, while most outside counsel feel compelled to leave no stone unturned — and they usually need written confirmation for the file when they abandon anything. More…