Miami Business & Commercial Law Blog

How to tell when your business is the target of legal scams

Malicious prosecution is something most people think about in terms of criminal charges and out-of-control prosecutors -- but it's also used to describe the actions of private individuals or companies as well.

Sometimes, the term is used to describe opportunists who try to use the legal system to bully a company into paying them "nuisance money" to go away rather than run up a legal bill in court. Essentially, these people bet that you'll throw a few thousand dollars their way to make a frivolous lawsuit disappear in order to save thousands more in legal fees to fight it -- even though you know you're in the right.

When the spirit of a contract isn't fulfilled, seek legal help

In every contract, there's the cold, hard words on the paper that fulfill the legal technicalities -- but there's also the spirit of the contract that's often between the lines.

The parties involved generally have an obligation to meet both, especially when the expectations are reasonable given the nature of the contract.

A deal's a deal, even when it rests on a handshake

There's an old adage that "an oral contract is worth the paper it's written on," but that isn't always true -- and people who underestimate the legalities of a handshake bargain sometimes find out, to their dismay, that they're going to be held to their word.

This was the lesson learned by a Florida power company after its former director of project developments made a verbal agreement with a realtor at a decidedly unbusiness-like setting: a university's tailgate party in 2008.

How a simple agreement becomes a contract

There's a big difference between a simple agreement and a legal contract. For one thing, breaking an agreement might not make you any friends, but it probably won't land you in court. Break a contract, however, and you can just about count seeing the inside of a courtroom in the future.

While many contracts are filled with complicated wording and mind-numbing legal lingo, the heart of a contract is very simple. In order to be valid, or legally enforceable, a contract needs two basic things:

  1. An agreement has to be made between two parties.
  2. Consideration, or something of value, has either be exchanged or promised in exchange for something else of value by each party.

Consider carefully before signing employment contacts

Knowledge is power -- especially in a society that is increasingly being driven by ideas and technological innovations. As a result, employers are increasingly anxious about losing control of their intellectual property.

From an employer's perspective, that means it only makes sense to ask employees to sign some form of noncompete or nondisclosure agreements in order to gain a measure of security and control over what former employees take with them when they move on.

Puffery and false advertising: What's the difference?

Back in the early days of advertising, the proverbial snake oil salesman would roll into town with a secret tonic or magic elixir that could supposedly cure everything from acne and arthritis to toothaches and gout in one convenient swallow.

By the time people realized that they'd been conned, he would have long moved onto another town, too far away to be worth tracking down.

Unlicensed contractor faked death to avoid homeowners

A Florida man working as an unlicensed contractor faked his own death -- just to avoid a lawsuit.

The saga started when a pair of Pennsylvania snowbirds decided that they wanted to make Florida their permanent home. They bought a house in a closed community that needed a few repairs before they could move in, so they did what most people do: They asked their neighbors to recommend someone.

Understanding consideration in contracts

No matter what type of business you run, you need to know something about contract law in order to survive.

At its most basic form, a contract is any agreement that's legally enforceable -- unlike a simple agreement between friends, there are certain rules that have to be met in order to make a contract legal: