In legal terms, litigation simply refers to the process of resolving a dispute through the courts.
There are different processes that the courts use according to the value and the intricacy of the claim.
Initially, all cases begin with a person who wishes to bring a claim because they feel that some civil wrong has been committed against them by another person – intentionally or otherwise.
The person who has been ‘wronged’ in some way is known as a claimant.
The person who has done wrong is a potential defendant as they may have to defend themselves against the claim brought to the courts by the claimant.
The Claimant and defendant will become what are known as parties to proceedings if the claim does reach the courts.
So what do you need to do first if you find yourself in a dispute with another?
There are obviously transparent steps laid out by the Pre-action Protocols and the Civil Procedure Rules. These rules control the steps that an individual should take, from the kickoff to the rules that the judges follow in the event of failure to obey these rules in full. It is advisable to consult a legal professional to deal with complex matters on your behalf.
You have a problem, which may require the involvement of the court service in some way to assist in resolving a problem.
Before this can be dealt with at court, you must ensure that you have fulfilled any pre-action obligations laid out within the Pre-action Protocols.
All of the forms required to begin civil court proceedings can be found via the following link: http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil.
Depending upon what your issue is, you need to follow the appropriate protocol. In many cases, it is clear which protocol should be followed.
Where there is no clear pre-action protocol, you should follow the pre-action conduct steps.
When considering civil litigation, you should be aware of ‘The Overriding Objective’ as found in the Civil Procedure Rules.
The Civil Procedure Rules state that the courts must deal with cases justly, in a way, which is proportional to the amount of money involved, the standing of the case, the intricacy of the issues and the financial position of each party.
Further information can be found at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part01 .
What does this mean to a potential party to proceedings?
It means that the court will ensure that any litigation cannot spiral out of hand in relation to costs and the issues to be decided.
It means that parties will be encouraged to put an end to disputes through alternative means such a mediation, arbitration and conciliation.
The courts will ensure that any claim is dealt with in a proportionate manner and that court time is not wasted.
It also means that there is a duty placed upon legal representatives and other persons involved in a dispute to act in accordance with the Overriding Objective at all times.
Any person who is considering seeking the advice of a solicitor and resolving their issues through litigating in court should be aware that very few cases actually make it to trial.
It is no great surprise, therefore, that around 97% of claims settle prior to a hearing after having been issued at court. To issue at court simply means to fill in a claim form and file it at court to officially begin the process of litigation.
This suggests that adhering to and abiding by the principles of the Overriding Objective will usually end up in a settlement out of court being achieved through alternative dispute resolution.
Before issue at court, there is a large amount of pre-action work which sets out to identify the issue/problem, collate evidence and documents and place the parties in a situation in which they know whether or not litigating through the courts is a sensible idea.
Advice should be sought from a qualified legal professional with the ability to advise on the best way forward in any matters, which may proceed to court.
If you think you may need assistance dealing with a litigation issue, contact one of the team at CPC Worldwide, we will assess all cases and provide initial feedback free of charge!!