The Corporate Law Group

Be Careful With Legal Self Help

Self-help sounds like a good idea, and may be in many pursuits, but in legal matters it can be a terrible idea. And in a bad economy it is a common practice as payment cycles get longer and companies are focused on cash flow. We have seen a rise in self help efforts, almost all of them fraught with unnecessary risk. Many of these risks are related to doing things that you think will put pressure on your debtor, but which really can expose you to liability. For example, a former employee of a company told the company that unless they paid him the amount demanded, he would post their source code on the Internet: The former employee ended up being arrested for extortion. Another former employee went into his former employer’s website and messed with customer data: He was arrested for federal computer crimes. You might try to scuttle a sale that you were working on while still employed: And get sued for “interference with prospective business advantage.” The right kind of self help? Help yourself to a lawsuit against your debtor if you have to. Once litigation had been filed, an immunity arises to things like slander, extortion, and interference with prospective business advantage, while prosecuting your lawsuit.
Paul Marotta
One thought on “Be Careful With Legal Self Help”
  1. Liz says:

    I completely agree you need to be careful with legal matters — I will say that your examples show behavior that seems (to me — but I’m not a lawyer!) clearly criminal. I also think it’s really good to be prepared for those legal matters for which we can be, such as estates, funeral planning, etc. “Die$mart” by Kathy Lane is a consumer-friendly resource guide to that (I know there are others) goes into estate planning and funeral planning, probate court, etc. It can help you manage the paperwork and all the other details. I personally like the 11 mistakes of “dying dumb” that are covered — very interesting and very illuminating.

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