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When Can a Business Entity Represent Itself in Court?

Most people assume that although it is usually smart to hire an attorney to represent them in court, it is ultimately their own choice as to whether they want to hire an attorney or represent themselves or their business. If you own a business in Colorado that is an LLC or a corporation, there are situations in which you do not have a choice and must hire an attorney to represent you in litigation.

Benefits of LLCs and Corporations

Colorado law allows a business entity to form as, among other things, a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation by filing formation papers and paying a filing fee. Forming your business as one of these two entities provides a variety of benefits including limited personal liability. In that circumstance, the business may be liable for the debts of the business but the owners would not be personally liable. Additionally, the business filing protects owners from personal responsibility for another co-owner’s negligence.

Responsibilities of LLCs and Corporations

Business entities who file for LLC or corporation status in Colorado are responsible for making annual filings and having a registered agent, a designated person within the state who can accept legal notice on behalf of your company. An additional responsibility required by state law is that the business must hire an attorney when dealing with certain matters in court.

Reasons a Business Might Go to Court in Colorado

It is not uncommon for a business to be involved in legal matter or disputes which require court appearances. Some common reasons a business might go to court include:

  • Antitrust matters
  • Bankruptcy
  • Breach of contract
  • Collections
  • Copyright or trademark infringement
  • Employee claims of wrongful termination
  • Employment discrimination
  • Evictions
  • Partnership disputes

Requirement for Counsel

Colorado statute C.R.S. § 13-1-127 requires a business entity (corporation or LLC) to be represented by a Colorado attorney in court unless all of the following are true:

  • The entity is closely held (no more than three owners),
  • The amount at issue in the case is less than $15,000, and
  • The entity is represented by an officer of the company in the court appearance

When a business represents itself, it is called appearing pro se.

Deciding Whether to Appear Pro Se

Even in situations in which your business could represent itself in court, it is rarely a good idea to do so. Often non-attorney business owners are not familiar with the statutes, caselaw, and the legal nuances involved in successfully litigating a case. Likewise, most are not knowledgeable about court procedures and requirements.

Representing yourself may not only result in losing the case, but requiring the services of an attorney to deal with potential fallout from the judgment in the case. It is much wiser to hire a business attorney to represent your company in all legal disputes.

Burnham Law attorneys work closely with your business to not only help you file the formation papers you need to create your business entity, but to assist you with all the issues and challenges you may encounter as you operate your business.

Reliable counsel lifts a heavy burden from the shoulders of the owners and ensures that your company is completely protected from all legal concerns. If your company needs to appear in court, call us today to schedule an appointment with your business lawyers by calling 303-872-4273.

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Ashlee
Hoffmann

Senior Associate - Civil Litigation

Boulder

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