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Consumer and property FAQ

For any customer seeking expert advice on property and consumer law e.g. I have a boundary dispute

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What is civil litigation?

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Civil litigation (also known as dispute resolution) is a process where a dispute is resolved either through negotiation or the use of the court system.

Civil litigation and civil law, covers a range of legal disputes between two or more parties regarding civil matters and is used to resolve non-criminal disputes, e.g. property disagreements and breaches of contract.

Does my case qualify?

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We specialise in a wide variety of civil cases however, not all cases are the same and different aspects can alter the strength of a case. There is no case where success is guaranteed and, in some cases, the outcome depends on no more than who the judge believes on certain key issues. We will give a realistic assessment of the factors the judge will take into account, and identify the evidence we will have to obtain to present your case to the judge.

Disputes which may involve court proceedings are complex and our legal experts can help guide you through the process. If you are feeling the stress and anxiety of dealing with a dispute, expert dispute resolution advice can help. In our assessment we will thoroughly discuss and evaluate your case before presenting our best judgement and possible case outcomes. We will discuss with you where the strengths and the weaknesses of your case are.

How is a case funded?

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There are various ways to fund a dispute. Below is a list of some of the options:

  • Costs paid direct by the party (you).
  • Conditional Fee Agreement: If you lose there is no fee to pay provided you abide by its terms. If you win the claim you will pay a success fee but this not payable if you have pre-existing legal expense insurance.
  • Damages Based Agreement.
  • Legal expenses insurance.
  • Union funding: If you are a member of a trade union, some degree of funding may be available to you. We can liaise with your union to ensure you retain that level of support.

We can offer and discuss a variety of funding options which may be suitable to you. If you are claiming using your legal expenses insurance, the assessment will usually include:

  • Does it have good prospects of success – over 50%?
  • Is it proportionate to use the cover to pursue the case?
  • Is there reasonable prospects of recovery from the defendant?
  • Has the event occurs during the period of the policy of insurance?
  • Are all other terms of the insurance policy met?

A claim funded by legal expenses insurance will have an indemnity limit which the insurer will not exceed: for example, £50,000.00 inclusive of VAT. Please note: this does not mean that all your costs are guaranteed to be covered by your insurer. The claim will need to be assessed to ensure the fees incurred by the insurer are proportionate to the value of the claim. This will be made clear in the assessment of your claim and we’ll keep you updated as the claim progresses.

How long will it take?

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The length of time it will take to conclude your case depends on the nature and the complexity of the dispute. We will be able to provide you with a more specific timeline after an assessment of the claim and sending the initial letters. This sets out your case, what you seek and gives your opponent an opportunity to respond. If a response is received and the dispute is not resolved, it may be that another form of resolution is appropriate such as mediation or court proceedings.

If the claim goes through court proceedings, the claim will be allocated to one of the categories below, dependent upon the value, complexity and relief sought, which will impact on the anticipated time of your claim:

  • Small claims track: 6 months – 1 year

Small claims are those seeking damages less than £10,000

  • Fast track: 1 year – 2 years

Fast track claims are those seeking damages in excess of £10,000 – £25,000 or another remedy, such as injunctions. The trial will last one day so there will be limited expert or witness evidence.

  • Multi track: 1 year – 3 years

Multi track claims are those seeking damages in excess of £25,000 or another remedy, such as injunctions. The trial will last more than one day due to the complexity of the matter, or requirement of significant expert or witness evidence.

Can I recover my costs?

The unsuccessful party often pays the reasonable costs incurred by the successful party, dependent on which track the claim is allocated to. The costs that can be recovered can include, but are not limited to:

  • Witness expenses
  • Court fees
  • Expert fees and legal costs: dependant on the success of your claim and its track

What methods are used to resolve a dispute?

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The main methods of dispute resolution are:

  • Litigation – The use of the courts and legal process. F2) Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) or arbitration in complex contract matters: The use of an impartial, independent third party to decide the outcome of a dispute.
  • Negotiation – The parties attempting to reach a settlement (usually through their legal representatives) without the use of the courts or any form of intermediary.

How much time do I have to make a claim?

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For most types of claims, there is a limitation date by which court proceedings must be issued. If you wish to bring court proceedings based on a breach of contract or property dispute, you should do so within 6 years of the date on which the contract was breached or the damage first occurred to the property. There are differing limitation periods for claims involving professional negligence or contracts executed by deed and trespass matters. We will advise you of expected timescales after finishing our initial assessment.

What are the risks to me?

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Depending on the funding arrangement you have with your solicitor and the value of the claim, the greatest risk is that your claim is unsuccessful and you are responsible for your own costs and a large proportion of your opponent’s costs.

A claim which has been funded by way of legal expenses insurance will have an indemnity limit which will not be exceeded by the insurer in any circumstance. Although we endeavour to minimise financial cost throughout each stage of the claim, any costs incurred over the indemnity limit will need to be personally funded by you.

Please also bear in mind that you will have to commit your own time to being involved in the process, too.

It is impossible to say at the outset what the exact final cost is likely to be, as all cases differ and for certain types of case, fixed fees might be available. In each case we will give you the best estimate we can, based on our experience as to what the likely costs are, and discuss with you any alternative ways of resolving the dispute with limited financial cost.