HomeSMEs, directors & shareholdersShareholder disputesFamily disputes and succession planning

We regularly help clients who are shareholders in family businesses. Disputes can often become more difficult to resolve due to the close family relationships, so early intervention can make a huge difference. Our team can help.


Family-run businesses are the heart and soul of the entrepreneurial world, built on the bonds of blood and shared vision. However, they often face unique challenges such as succession planning and disputes between family shareholders can quickly threaten the harmony and viability of the business.

At Francis Wilks & Jones, we specialise in providing legal support and guidance to family business owners, often helping them preserve the legacy they’ve built and continuing the business into the next generation.

Common challenges we deal with

1. Succession planning.

Determining who will lead the business when the current owner(s) step down or retire is an often fraught and complex process, especially if there is more than one family member vying to take over.

2. Management / board issues.

Often one or more shareholders will also be a director of the company. This can lead to issues with non-shareholder directors, especially if there is disagreement over the direction of the company or issues over dividend payments or director pay.

3. Shareholder disputes.

Family businesses can encounter conflicts among shareholders over issues such as decision-making, ownership percentages, pre-emption rights, minority shareholder issues and sale of shares and exit.

4. Estate and tax planning.

Effective estate and tax planning are critical to preserving family wealth and ensuring a smooth transition to the next generation. However, it is not always easy to get everyone to agree the most appropriate structures to enable this to happen.

5. Personality clashes.

In families, personality issues can often flare up very quickly, even if they are not business related. But fallings out on a personal level can then have a wider impact if they spill over into the company, sometimes leading to deadlock and a paralysis in decision making.

6. Compliance and regulatory challenges.

Adhering to the ever increasing legal and regulatory requirements can be overwhelming for some business and lead to conflict between shareholders.

Let us help you today

Whatever the issues are within your family firm, we have the team to help. We can offer you

  • Specialised expertise. Our shareholder dispute solicitors specialise in family business matters, offering in-depth knowledge of the unique challenges these businesses face.
  • Proven success. We have a successful track record of assisting family businesses in navigating succession planning and resolving shareholder disputes.
  • Customised solutions. Family dispute resolution is never a “one size fits all”. Our shareholder dispute solicitors understand that every family business is unique, and we offer tailored solutions that address your specific needs and goals.
  • Strategic planning. We provide strategic guidance to help you navigate complex family dynamics, ensuring a smooth transition and resolving disputes effectively.
  • Cost efficiency. We are conscious that our clients want to resolve their cases without incurring undue legal spend. We will help you achieve that.

Contact us today to schedule a free initial call and let us guide you through the issues you might be facing on a family run business. We can help you navigate through these and reach a successful outcome.

Supportive and friendly with partner-led involvement, I would recommend Francis Wilks & Jones to anyone facing a similar situation.

A shareholder who turned to us after discovering that his co-shareholder was profiting well from their business while he was being paid a pittance. We helped him find a way out of the business by selling his shares

Key contacts

Andrew Carter

Andrew Carter


Sima Sinai

Sima Sinai


Maria Koureas-Jones

Maria Koureas-Jones


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