Is the trial of a franchise case any different than the trial of other commercial litigation cases? How so?
Washington D.C. litigator Eric Yaffe explains how franchise trials are different than other commercial matters.
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The trial of a franchise case is different. First of all, franchising has its own nomenclature, so it’s very important that we educate the judge and the jury on what franchising is all about. So it’s not a typical relationship that you might find in the commercial realm. Franchising is very different. It also has its own set of rules and regulations, state and federal regulations, and all of that needs to really be explained in trials to the judge and jury in order for them to understand and in order for the franchisor to put its best foot forward in the case.
The other thing I would say that is a little bit different about franchise trial is that there’s often the perception that it’s David versus Goliath. That is, that the franchisor is a big, huge, unwieldy corporation going against a small mom-and-pop franchisee. That’s not often the case. Sometimes franchisees can be quite wealthy and powerful in their own right. But in any event it’s very important to clear up that misperception, and if you’re representing the franchisor make sure that the judge and the jury understand that there are real reasons why this case is in court and why from the franchisor’s perspective possibly that franchisee needs to be terminated from the system.
I would say those are two of the main differences that we see between a franchise case and other kinds of commercial cases that we bring to court.