Should you become involved in a dispute over money, buying of goods or services, property disputes or claims that arise on death, we can offer you sound, practical advice on how best to resolve any claim before the matter becomes too contentious and costly to settle.
Make sure you have the right advice in the first place before deciding the appropriate course of action to take with your dispute. Contact us for the right advice before you take any further action yourself.
If proceedings become necessary we can represent you in both the County Court and High Court.
Mediation or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is encouraged by the courts and is often a cheaper alternative to litigating a claim and should be attempted. To ignore a request to mediate can result in the court imposing sanctions.
We can assist you with the following types of claim
- breach of contract claims
- building disputes
- consumer contracts
- property repossessions
- landlord and tenant disputes
- trespass and adverse possession claims
- boundary, easements and property disputes
- negligence claims
- contentious probate claims and Inheritance Act claims
Civil Dispute Resolution
If you find yourself in a contractual dispute with a supplier or customer, for example, it is usually better to find a solution, which will usually involve some form of compromise, rather than ending up embroiled in litigation, which can be very costly in terms of your time and money. Not only that but you may salvage an important business relationship.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Wherever possible, you should take advice early to avoid becoming embroiled in costly litigation. We strongly recommend using a method of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) before taking the matter to court. There are many options available, including round table negotiation, mediation and arbitration. There is no guarantee this will settle your dispute, although the success rates are generally high and the courts will expect you to have attempted ADR before embarking on litigation and a failure to consider ADR or partake in it before litigation commences can often result in an adverse costs order, even if the claim succeeds.
Where ADR is not possible or is unsuccessful in achieving a settlement of the dispute you may then have to commence a civil claim in the County Court, High Court or one of the other specialist courts like to Technology and Construction Court to resolve the dispute.
Before any claim can be brought in the courts, claimants and defendants must follow a pre-action protocol for their particular claim under the Civil Procedure Rules. This involves a claimant sending a prescribed form of letter of claim and supplying all information in relation to the claim and what is in dispute and giving a defendant 21 days to formally respond. You may find yourself in hot water with the court and liable to sanctions, such as paying the other side’s costs, if the correct protocol is not followed.
Once litigation begins it becomes costs bearing , meaning, in general terms, that the loser pays the winner’s costs of the proceedings, as well as their own costs.
How we can help you
Whatever the grounds for a dispute, our civil litigation solicitors understand it can be daunting and stressful for all involved. We will ensure you are fully informed on the options available and will support you through every step of the dispute resolution and litigation process, including:
- Advising you on the strengths (and weaknesses) of your claim and possible outcomes
- Explaining the likely costs involved of ADR and litigation and your funding options
- Corresponding with the other side to the dispute to advance your claim and grounds for the dispute
- Gathering evidence to substantiate your case
- Attempting to resolve the dispute through ADR before going to court
Should negotiations be unsuccessful in resolving your claim we may advise that you commence proceedings and:
- Issue your claim in the appropriate court for service on the other side
- If no response is made within the court’s time frame for filing an acknowledgement or a defence, judgment can be entered in default
- If a defence is filed to the claim then we shall advise you on allocation by the court of the claim to the appropriate track depending on the value and complexity of the claim.
- Attending to case and cost conference hearings at when the court with give directions to the parties on what they each shall provide the other with in terms of documents, exchanging witness statements of evidence, instruction of expert witnesses and costs budgeting setting limits on the amounts the parties can spend
- Obtaining advise from counsel, if necessary, either in writing or in conference on, for example, the prospects of success and the evidence and representing you in court
- Enforcing a judgment in your favour or advising you on an appeal if unsuccessful
Litigation funding may be available for certain claims, for example, contentious probate claims where the validity of a will may be disputed and inheritance Act claims against a deceased’s estate for reasonable financial provision. Funding is usually subject to there being no other insurance cover, the value of the claim being large enough to make the litigation worth funding, counsel’s opinion that the prospects of success being good (generally over 60%) and there being a realistic prospect of recovering the value of the claim and more importantly costs incurred in pursuing a claim.
Legal Expenses Insurance
Many household and motor insurance policies include cover for legal costs. It may be worth checking the policy wording of your existing insurances before your first appointment to find out if this is an option in your case.
Why we can help you
- Legal expertise aimed at achieving the best possible outcome for you
- Pragmatic guidance throughout the ADR and litigation process
- Experienced in bringing and defending civil dispute claims
- Costs advice to fund your case
- The Law Society’s Lexcel V6 accreditation for Practice Management Standards
Let us help you with the best and most appropriate course of enforcement action to take to ensure you receive the money you are owed once you have a judgment.
Call us to discuss your case and the best action to take.
Our fees are calculated mainly by reference to the amount of time that is spent on your matter and such time-related charges are calculated on the basis of the number of hours.
Letters out and phone calls are charged at 10% of the hourly rate and letters in at half that rate, 5%.
You will be charged the following rates for work conducted on your behalf by the following members of the department:
Our fees are subject to VAT being charged at 20%.
The fees quoted above do not include other disbursements that may become payable by you depending on the circumstances of this case, for example court fees, enquiry agents for process service, tracing agents, High Court Sheriff’s fees, interpretation and translation fees, medical fees, travel costs, postage costs (special/international post), car parking costs etc.
No VAT is payable on court fees and some disbursements such as travel expense some postal costs, but VAT at 20% may be charged by third parties in the provision of services, for example, counsel, expert witnesses and process servers or tracing agents.
We reserve the right to amend/alter/vary our costs (including disbursements) if any unusual circumstances arise in this case which will or are likely to involve us in undertaking more time on this case. We will advise you of any such circumstances that may arise.
If, for any reason, your case does not proceed to completion, you will be charged for work done on a time recording basis and for expenses incurred (if any).
Payments to Third Parties
In addition to our charges, any expenses incurred in the conduct of this matter will also be charged. Expenses include, but are not restricted to, counsel and expert’s fees, etc. Counsel’s fees will depend on the complexity of the case and seniority of counsel.
Counsel may be instructed to provide a written opinion, to advise in conference and/or attend court for a hearing or trial and will include preparation time. The average hourly rate counsel charges varies and is in the range of £200 to £300 per hour.
Expert witnesses will also charge by the hour for inspection and preparation time and for attending court, if required to give evidence. Their fees will vary depending on the type of expert and experience and locality, but will be in the same range as counsel, generally.
Process servers or enquiry agents ore generally less expensive to instruct and often offer a fixed fee service.
Whatever third party expenses have to be incurred we will normally obtain more than one estimate for you to consider before instructing.
It is our firm’s practice to request payments on account of fees and expenses before we undertake substantive work on your case.
Interim accounts are submitted periodically and I would expect to submit such interim accounts at one to three monthly intervals, although this will naturally depend on the rate of progress in your case. You may wish to consider coming to an arrangement to make regular weekly or monthly payments towards costs as your case proceeds. Such payments can be made by standing order, credit or debit cards, or bank transfer.
If a money claim (or counterclaim) is admitted, or undefended, judgment can be entered on the admission and any proposals for payment or for the amount claimed plus fixed costs of issuing the claim and entering judgment allowed by the Civil Procedure Rules and any interest claimed.
If a claim (or counterclaim) is defended the the court will allocate the claim to one of 3 tracks, depending on the value of the claim and the complexity of the case and the time and resources appropriate for its just disposal at a proportionate cost.
Small Claims Track
This track is for low value (up to £10,000) and which are not complex. In the Small Claims Track, your case will allocated following the filing of a defence and will be listed for a hearing within 3 or 4 months. The only costs recoverable are the fixed costs of issuing the claim and court fees, whether you win or lose.
If the value of the claim is over £10,000 and up to £25,000, or less than £10,000 but with complex issues involved, the case and will normally be listed for a one day Fast Track Trial within 6 months, normally. Fast track costs are recoverable by the successful party.
Whether a case is allocated to the small claims track or fast track is of considerable significance in relation to the recoverability of costs.
It may be in the interests of a party to have a case allocated to the fast track to justify instructing lawyers and to be able to recover the costs of doing so. On the other hand, the allocation of a case to the small claims track preventing a party recovering the costs of legal representation may be of tactical advantage.
The Multi Track is for high value and complex cases. Generally speaking, the successful party will be awarded their costs against their opponent, which are assessed by the court as payable either on the Standard Basis, which errs in the payer’s favour, or on the Indemnity basis, which errs on the receiving party’s favour. Detailed assessment of costs is a complex area requiring detailed knowledge of the costs rules under the CPR and specialist advice and instructions of a Costs Draftsman. If not agreed the costs in dispute will be determined by a Costs Judge at a detailed Assessment hearing.
Depending on the complexity of the claim and any counterclaim, it can take anything between 12 months and 24 months for a claim to reach trial as there are various stages of a claim that you have to go through once it becomes defended and before a claim is ready to be heard, including filing allocation questionnaires, a Case Management Conference hearing to give directions for what has to be done and by when, instruction of an expert to report , usually a single joint expert, preparation of costs budgets, attending a Cost Budgeting Conference hearing for the court to approve the parties costs budgets to trial, disclosure and inspection of each other’s documentation, filing and serving of witness statements, , and filing Listing Questionnaires confirming the claim is ready for trial, which may take more than one day.
Opponent Party’s Charges and Expenses
It is important that you understand that you will be responsible for paying our bills. If this dispute leads to litigation then, even if you are successful, the other party may not be ordered to pay all your charges and expenses or these may not be recovered from them in full, or at all. The amount of our costs which you have to pay may be greater than the amount you can recover from another party to the case.
You will also be responsible for paying the charges and expenses incurred in seeking to recover any sum that the Court orders the other party to pay or in seeking to enforce any other type of order made by the Court. In some circumstances, the Court may order you to pay the other party’s legal charges and expenses, for example, if you lose the case. As a general rule the unsuccessful party to litigation pays the successful party’s costs, as well as having to pay their own charges and expenses. You may have litigation insurance cover linked to other insurance products like house or motor insurance which may cover your legal charges and expenses and your liability for other parties’ legal charges so you should always check.
Call us to discuss your case and the best action to take.