Wholistic business succession uses awareness as key to a new life, because it opens new ways of seeing your life situation. The holistic law approach gives long term benefits, which are more sustainable than litigation and PR: happiness is the goal!
When thinking about selling or inheriting a business, you should first acknowledge how the actives will be divided, secondly evaluate how fights could impact your business and mental health, when it comes to litigation PR. At the end you can learn how to avoid all of that with a holistic law approach for business succession.
The division of assets in business succession
The Swiss Civil Code (ZGB) does not recognise a special right of business succession. In principle, the assets are divided according to the principle of equality of heirs and the allocation in kind of the inherited assets. Assignment in kind means, for example, that furniture or securities are distributed to heirs physically whole, as i.e. a desk cannot be divided into parts.
However, the imputation value of real estate is determined on the basis of the market value at the time of division. In case of disagreement between the heirs, this is determined in a binding manner by officially appointed experts (Art. 618 CC) in court case.
Since family conflicts are strenuous, one must consider the impact that court proceedings and PR strategies may have on a company, as I will explain below.
Material truth versus formal truth
If the parties are dissatisfied during or after the business succession process, any fight can then turn into legal disputes. Disputes in court may benefit or disadvantage marketing and thus lead to instability of the company for a certain period.
Anyone who has already had occasion to be involved in a court procedure, either as plaintiff or defendant, knows what requirements are imposed in order for the judge to be given the opportunity through his or her free will to decide on what actually happened and what must be decided. In technical terms, one speaks of the difference between material truth, i.e. what really happened, and formal truth, i.e. that truth which through the various allegations of the parties is ascertained backwards as plausible and normative for a judicial decision. This means that it does not matter what really happened from your point of you, as long as you cannot make the judge believe it. This is why legal proceedings are based on the formal truth.
Having the awareness that you potentially could put at risk your business as well family and employees relationships is the first step. The second step is about estimating which impact litigation PR could have on the selling process.
Litigation PR for business succession?
Litigation PR (also strategic legal communication or public relations accompanying litigation) is a form of public relations in which external communication is handled before, during and after litigation. The objective of litigation PR is to support the legal strategy in order to influence the outcome of the legal dispute with the help of the public and, at the same time, to avoid damage to the client’s reputation.
Since judges are normal human beings, who also read newspapers and take into consideration what they read, I like to share this letter to a Swiss German Newspaper I wrote, when I discovered newspaper articles in a court file . Here in German, my letter to the NZZ am Sonntag, published on 11.9.2016.
Now, let us look at the current example of the trial in the USA between Johnny Deep and Amber Heard, both to understand what litigation PR is, and to understand the difference between a lawyer and a holistic lawyer. The reason I would like to use this example, even though is not related to a business succession, is to explain with a well known example, how lives can change with litigation PR and EGO driven lawyers and PR agencies.
Deep v. Heard: Case Study
Here the list of the relevant facts:
- Mr. Deep lost in the UK a libel claim over an article which called him a “wife beater” in 2020 (Source: Reuters).
- On June 1st 2022, Johnny Depp won a defamation trial in the US against Amber Heard, and Amber Heard lost most of her countersuit. Depp was awarded $15 million in damages, including $5 million in punitive damages, which the judge capped to $350,000, the legal limit in Virginia. In total, he was entitled to $10.35 million. The jury awarded Heard $2 million, with the finding that former Depp attorney Adam Waldman had defamed her (Source: VOX).
- Johnny Deep’s famous attorney was Camille Vasquez, an associate in the Firm’s Litigation & Arbitration Practice Group of Brown Rudnick. As well as Ms Vasquez, Depp’s team consists of Ben Chew, Stephanie Calnan, Andrew Crawford, Rebecca MacDowell Lecaroz, Yarelyn Mena, Jessica Meyers and Samuel Moniz.
- Amber Heard’s attorney was Elaine Bredehoft. On her legal team were also the attorneys Woods Rogers and lawyer Ben Rottenborn. Source (Metro)
- Amber Heard‘s new public relations team slammed Johnny Depp’s lawyers for their “shameful” and “desperate” tactics, just hours before they were set to cross-examine her. (Source: Marca).
- On TikTok, the hashtag #justiceforjohnnydepp has 7.5 billion views (Source: Insider)
- Ms. Amber was considered as a liar form the public opinion (Source: CUT). “Amber Turd” and “#MePoo” and #amberliar were popular on the social media.
As seen in social media, lawyers use Litigation PR, also through specialised agencies, to manipulate judges opinion.
The Other Side Of The Coin
Any lawyer can win a litigation with the right PR. More difficult it becomes, if the legal team has to master their mindset during a shit storm and mean tactics by the opposite legal team.
Even though these two actors, Mr. Deep and Ms. Heard, look for PR opportunities, I do not think that they considered the twist for their career when they started fighting each other in the court rooms and in the media. Litigation and PR is a double-edged blade: It is not possible to predict the benefit of this strategy: it does not matter how good your lawyer is.
Ask yourself how you would feel when everything would go wrong, before starting a litigation. If you think that you cannot handle the pressure or you would like to find a peaceful solution, then you should consider the wholistic law approach.
Wholistic Business Succession
The holistic approach for dispute resolution need a lawyer who is mindful and has deepen the knowledge of him/herself with a process of personal growth. This is important because the job of an attorney is EGO based. The lawyer education makes the attorney a fighter. Therefore, the reactions of a fighter are different from a person who is mindful due to a spiritual journey. However, you should be aware that you cannot recognize the difference from the appearance: a person can appear calm due to his genetic or ability to switch off emotions. As a result, you should ask the lawyer what kind of meaningful coaching educations, therapies and spiritual experience he/she has.
A holistic lawyer will handle your case mindfully, since he/she is empathic by using emotions and awareness for the better understanding of the situation of the client on a body, mind and soul level, as well as in his professional and privat environment. Therefore, the quality of the counseling by a holistic lawyer is different due to his own soul journey.
What is more, the holistic lawyer aim is to make your life changing process an experience which is not only based on the financial statement, contracts and solving family disputes, but also at reaching a sustainable result for all parties involved. By having learn to put her/his own EGO at services for a higher purpose, the holistic lawyer helps the client with a mindful approach. This means that the client will learn how to handle his business in a different and innovative way and find a wholistic solution.
Holistic lawyer, Avv. Dipl-Jur. Dominique Calcò Labbruzzo