Business Law Notes
Winter 2007 Edition
If any aspect of your business involves influencing governmental policy decisions, the new North Carolina State Government Ethics Act may affect you. Here are a few of the issues your business should be aware of:
- Gifts to public officials are prohibited, except for very narrow exceptions. Prohibited gifts can include tickets to ball games and meals.
- The definition of lobbying has been expanded and includes attempting to influence policy decisions of administrative agencies, boards and educational institutions.
- “Good will” lobbying is now regulated. If you host or sponsor an event where legislators or other public officials are invited, this is regulated and you should seek legal advice.
WATCH OUT FOR THIS POTENTIAL TRAP IN SMALL CLAIMS COURT – Someone sues your company in Small Claims Court for $5,000. At your hearing, the judge awards the plaintiff $4,000 instead of $5,000. The plaintiff then appeals, seeking the full $5,000 he originally sued for. This is fine with you since you think the judge was clearly wrong and you should win in District Court. Two weeks later, however, you learned that the plaintiff has dismissed his appeal and your company is stuck with a $4,000 judgment against it!
If you want to protect your right to challenge a Small Claims judgment in District Court, you have to appeal as well. Otherwise, the plaintiff could simply dismiss his appeal and proceed to collect his judgment – plus court costs!
You can give notice of appeal orally at your hearing or in writing within 10 days after judgment is entered (get the Notice of Appeal form from the Clerk of Court). You have to pay the costs of court within 20 days after entry of the judgment, otherwise your appeal will be dismissed.
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