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Litigation and Dispute Resolution
Turbervilles litigation team are experienced and successful in resolving all types of commercial disputes.
We always take a commercially minded approach towards resolving disputes, and are keen to recommend mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution where this may result in a quicker or more cost-effective outcome. This approach helps to keep the level of work and costs proportionate to the size of the dispute.
If Court proceedings are necessary, you can be confident that our experienced lawyers have the skills and resources to assist in bringing your dispute to a satisfactory conclusion. Members of the Department regularly undertake litigation in the High Court, County Court, the Court of Appeal and other specialist tribunals.
Although the Department handles the full range of commercial and contract disputes, some of our more specialised areas of expertise are as follows:
- Adjudication proceedings
- Arbitration and alternative dispute resolution
- Bankruptcy and Insolvency
- Shareholder and Partnership disputes
- Construction claims
- Debt Recovery
- Intellectual Property
- Landlord & Tenant Litigation
- Mobile Home disputes
- Professional Negligence
The total level of costs is usually very difficult to predict accurately (particularly at the outset), but we provide clients with an estimate at the beginning of the case and at regular intervals as the case continues.
The general rule is that that the loser in litigation ends up having to pay the winner’s costs. However, not all of the costs that are actually incurred by the winner will be recoverable from the loser. As a rule of thumb, the Court often allows the winner to recover somewhere between half and two thirds of the costs which it has actually incurred. However, the Court may order one or other of the parties to pay the costs in relation to particular hearings or issues. Ultimately, the question of who should pay the costs, and how much they should pay, is always a matter for the Judge to decide and tactical offers are often an important part of litigation.
What happens if the other side can’t pay when I win?
If it’s a case of “won’t pay” rather than “can’t pay”, then there are various steps that we can take to try to force your opponent to pay up. However, you should recognise that even if you win, your opponent simply may not be able to pay you at the end of the case. If this happens, there will be little you can do about it apart from asking the Court to make your opponent bankrupt (in the case of an individual) or to be wound up (in the case of a limited company).
Because of this, you should gather as much information as possible about your opponent’s financial situation before deciding whether or not to start Court proceedings. It is normally only worth starting proceedings if you believe there is a realistic prospect (a) that you have a strong enough legal argument to win the case, and (b) that your opponent has the ability to pay any money you may be awarded.
Are there any other ways to fund my case?
The vast majority of litigation work that we carry out is funded by clients paying us privately, based on our stated hourly charging rates. However, we are sometimes able to offer alternative means of funding your case. In some limited types of cases we may be able to act for you upon the basis of a conditional fee agreement, commonly known as a “no win, no fee” agreement.
It may be possible to obtain “After the Event Insurance” cover from a specialist insurer to fund both the cost of your case and to protect you against the risk of losing the case and having to pay your opponent’s legal costs. We can obtain further details for you upon request. However, the premiums for such insurance are usually quite a large percentage of the level of cover provided, particularly if the dispute is not straightforward, or if the sums involved are large.
Finally, you may already have insurance cover available to you under an existing policy, such as household or business protection insurance, that could provide funding for your case. Alternatively a trade body or trade union of which you are a member may be willing to provide assistance.
Settling or discontinuing a claim before trial
Once you start Court proceedings you will inevitably cause your opponent to start running up their own legal costs. Once a Defence has been filed, it is not normally possible for you to withdraw the claim unless (i) you either agree to pay your opponent’s legal costs, or (ii) you are able to negotiate a deal with your opponent to settle the claim. Therefore you should not start litigation unless you are prepared to see it through to a conclusion, at trial if necessary. It is never a good idea to start proceedings purely in the hope that this will bring pressure to bear and that a deal will be done.
Whilst the majority of cases are settled before they reach Court, you should not assume that your case will be one of them.
It is never too early or too late to try to negotiate a settlement. Around 96% of all cases which are started will settle at some stage before trial. The Courts always encourage parties to settle their disputes by negotiation or mediation (see below). A negotiated settlement brings certainty and closure to a dispute and avoids the costs and risks of litigation. The timing and course of negotiations may depend upon the strength of your case and the options and tactics that might be available to you if negotiations break down.
It is always possible to try to negotiate a settlement with the other side at any stage on a “without prejudice” basis. This allows both sides to make concessions as part of the negotiating process, safe in the knowledge that if the case does not settle any concessions which are made as part of this process may not be used by the other side at trial.
Speak to our litigation solicitors?
The best way to deal with a dispute is to get good advice and ascertain your legal, evidential and tactical position as early as possible. Get in touch with us today.