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Litigation

We set the benchmark high

The requirements of each client in every case will often vary but in all cases the primary objective is to settle disputes quickly, cost effectively and successfully. Here at Blakewells Solicitors we are focussed on providing you with a service that is driven by what you want and success.

We endeavour to bring your case to an efficient yet successful conclusion using our negotiation skills. However if the opposing side decide to deny, avoid or dispute your claims, we have the knowledge and skills to take them the court and achieve the best outcome for you at trial. Throughout the process we make sure you are aware of what is going on and if you have any concerns we are always here to listen to you.

Our Civil Litigation Department deals with all types’ of individuals, companies and businesses and we handle a wide range of general civil litigation matters, including:

What sets us apart from the rest?

Whether you are making a claim against another party or defending a claim our service will always meticulously investigate the dispute and give you the best legal advice available.

The process of litigation simplified

Pre-Action Matters

When there is a dispute the courts encourage that all parties attempt to settle the matter before any legal action is taken. Parties are required to act in a reasonable manner and exchange any information and documents that may help bring the dispute to an early settlement. If a party fails to follow these requirements the court can apply a sanction against them for the failure. In addition to these requirements there are also certain procedures that parties are expected to follow in different areas of litigation. There procedures are called “pre-action protocols”  and areas such as personal injury and professional negligence will have its own “pre-action protocols” 

Proceedings

If the dispute cannot be settled at the pre-action stage, proceedings can begin when the claimant (person who wants to make the claim) has a claim form (accompanied by particulars of claim) issued by the court. The claim form and particulars of claim are extremely important documents as they set out the summary of the basic facts (not evidence) of the claim against the defendant (the person who is having a claim issued against). If the claim form and particulars of claim are not done properly the defendant may be able to get the case stuck out from court. If the case is stuck out the claimant will be liable for costs.

A claimant will have to pay a fee to have the claim form issued by the court. This fee will depend on the value and nature of the claim.

The claim form and particulars of claim have to be served (sent to defendant) according to special rules and within a timeframe. Once this is done court proceedings will have begun.

When the defendant is served with court proceedings he must indicate whether he accepts the claim or intends to defend the claim. This must be done within time limits and the court must be notified of the defendant’s position. If the defendant wants to defend the claim he must serve a defence (with any counterclaims) within 28 days of receiving the claim form. If the defence is weak then the claimant can seek to strike it out. If the defendant fails to serve a defence the claimant can ask the court to enter a default judgment.

Further documents may be served and filed at court in support of either the claim or the defence. All court documents must be accompanied by a ‘Statement of Truth’ to verify the truthfulness of the information contained in the documents.

Case Management

The courts will actively manage all cases so that matters are dealt with properly and timely.
Reasons for case management:

Disclosure

All parties are required to disclose documents:

Disclosable documents will include any digital format or anywhere information of any description relating to the case can be recorded.

Witnesses

If a party is to give oral evidence at trial then this must be disclosed as a written witness statement several weeks prior to the trial. Any witness statements should set out the facts and be certified by the witness to be true. At trial the witness may elaborate on their statement and give further evidence that may have arisen since the disclosure of the witness statement. The witness can be cross-examined by the other party’s lawyer and any inconsistencies with facts will undermine the witness.

Experts

The dispute in the case may require an expert to give an opinion on a particular issue. The court’s permission will be required if a party wishes to rely on an expert. The expert must be independent and his overriding duty is to the court and not the instructing part. There may be more than one expert in each case addressing different issues. The courts will consider cost implications and can order the parties to share the services of an expert. There are strict rules on the contents of the expert’s statement and evidence.

Trial

In civil cases the trial will determined by the judge alone. The only exception to this is in civil fraud cases and defamation cases.
The judge will generally read all the documents prior to the trial. During the trial each party’s advocate will put forward their side of the argument with the evidence that has been disclosed. Each party’s advocate will call upon their witnesses/experts and they may choose to cross-examine the opposing party’s witnesses/experts. The advocates will sum up the evidence and made submissions on any legal issues.
In simple cases the judgment will be given immediately by the judge and in more complex cases the judge will set a judgement date.

Cost

The general rule is that the unsuccessful party will be ordered to pay the costs of the successful party. If there are any breaches of the rules by the successful party they may have to pay a penalty.
It may the case that a party has agreed a conditional fee agreement (CFA) with his lawyer. The CFA may allow the lawyer to claim a success fee on top of his normal fees if the case is successful and either a reduced fee or no fee if the case is unsuccessful. The success fee may be payable by the losing party.  

Contact us today and we will answer any questions you have.