Most businesses understand that problems can arise all the time with vendors and suppliers. These disputes may be minor and can be remedied with a quick phone call. However, serious vendor disputes can cost a company business, their reputation, and put a lot of money at risk. The Katz Law Group understands how to handle vendor disputes in Massachusetts and across New England to represent your company's best interests.
Vendor Disputes in Massachusetts and New England
Vendor disputes in Massachusetts generally involve a vendor's failure to abide by the terms of the contract. Vendor and supplier performance can break down over time, as quality goes downhill or the vendor fails to make good on their promise. There are a number of common vendor complaints that result in significant business disputes, including:
- Late delivery,
- Delivery of non-conforming goods,
- Partial delivery,
- Failure to apply for credits,
- Change in quality of materials,
- Inconsistent performance, or
- Change in product prices.
Vendors can supply goods or services to a company, from providing the raw materials for the company's product to outsourcing production to hiring a cleaning company to maintain a commercial property, a business needs to rely on predictable and consistent service and performance. When a vendor or supplier fails to hold up their terms of the agreement, the business can suffer a loss of business, lost revenue, and harm to the company's reputation.
Vendor Agreements and Contracts
Most vendor disputes are ruled by a specific contract or supply agreement. These contracts generally provide for the terms and conditions of the relationship between the buyer and supplier. This includes:
- Obligations of the parties,
- Rights of the parties,
- What constitutes a breach of contract,
- Remedies in the event of a breach,
- Arbitration or mediation agreements,
- Assignment rights, and
- Termination of the agreement, including what happens if the business closes.
Unfortunately, many companies use form vendor agreements that may not take into account the exact needs of the company or expectations from the specific vendor. A full review of any vendor agreements by an experienced business contract and litigation attorney can help reduce the likelihood of disputes, clarify the obligations of the vendor, are avoid unnecessary litigation.
Vendor Agreement Breaches
It is important for businesses to address any vendor breaches as soon as they arise. How the company handles these breaches may impact their rights and remedies down the line. For example, regularly accepting non-conforming goods may establish what level of quality or materials are expected by the buyer.
Depending on the goods or services provided, the vendor-buyer relationship may take some time to establish the expectations and performances of each party. Any minor disputes or vendor problems should be discussed as soon as possible to help both parties come to a common understanding of the vendor's performance and the buyers' requirements.
When vendor breaches continue or get worse, simple negotiations may not be enough to remedy the dispute. Regular vendor issues can cost the business money with delays, quality control problems, or unhappy customers. At this point, the company may consider terminating the vendor agreement contract or seek damages through legal action.
Terminating Vendor Agreements
When the vendor breaches the contract, the terms for terminating the contract are generally provided in the agreement document. The contract may provide for the option to terminate the agreement in the event of a material breach. However, the vendor and buyer may disagree on whether there was a dispute. This often comes down to the language of the contract, past performance, and actions of the parties involved. Before unilaterally terminating the contract agreement, talk to your business contract attorney to understand your rights and options, and any risks involved.
Vendor and Supplier Dispute Litigation
When negotiations do not resolve the dispute, it may require taking the vendor to court. Litigation can mean going through a long civil court process but a civil complaint about damages may be the best option when a lot of money is on the line.
An experienced business litigator can help your company establish a strong position from the start, from the demand letter and initial complaint. It is important to provide a strong case from the initial filings going forward and maintain pressure on the other party to bring the case to a satisfactory and effective conclusion.
Experienced Vendor Dispute Lawyer in Massachusetts
The Katz Law Group has more than 36 years of experience representing businesses in Worcester, Framingham, Marlborough, Massachusetts, and New England in vendor disputes and litigation. We understand how best to approach a vendor dispute, to negotiate an optimal agreement, or enforce the terms of the vendor agreement. If your company is facing a dispute with a vendor or supplier, reach out to an experienced Massachusetts business litigation attorney. Contact us online today.