Frequently asked questions
Being involved in a legal dispute can be a very stressful time for anyone, whether you are an individual or a business. From our experience, the most important thing you can do when faced with a legal dispute is to seek early legal advice from a specialist dispute resolution solicitor so that things do not get out of control. It is often the case that advice is sought at a late stage and can sometimes mean being too late to do anything about it.
Some of the most common worries people have when faced with a legal dispute are varied. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions which may help people decide whether to pursue the dispute through legal channels.
Have I got a claim?
This is one of the most important questions that need answering. You can save a lot of time, stress and money in seeking early legal advice to ensure your position is protected and decide whether your case has any prospect of success. It is important that your situation is fully assessed so that you can decide whether to pursue the case further. Any difficulties or problems in pursuing your claim need to be properly risk assessed so that you can make an informed decision about whether to continue. Stephensons have a specialist team of dispute resolution solicitors who can carefully consider your claim and are able to assess the merits and risks of pursuing the claim on your behalf.
How much is my claim worth?
This depends on a number of factors. It is often not straightforward and sometimes it is not worth what you may think it is. It is essential that the claim is properly quantified. You need to decide whether independent expert evidence is required to assist in determining its value. There are various types of disputes consumers can have and our dispute resolution solicitors will be able to guide you through the realistic valuation of your claim having regard to the most recent developments in the law.
How much will the claim cost me?
Litigation can be expensive. It is important to understand the costs risks in pursuing a legal claim through the courts right from the beginning. Stephensons' dispute resolution team will be able to give you a costs estimate right at the beginning of your case to pursue your claim to a conclusion.
There may be different ways to fund your legal claim such as no win no fee agreements and fixed fee packages to the traditional hourly rate privately paying retainer.
It is also important to consider whether you have any legal expenses insurance either attached to your home insurance or bank or whether you are a member of a trade union who may be able to assist you with legal costs. This is something which the dispute resolution team at Stephensons can assist you with.
Do I have to issue a court claim?
It depends. There are various methods of resolving disputes without the need to start a court claim. Stephensons' dispute resolution department can look at whether your case is suitable for mediation or arbitration or whether there is any other method of resolving a dispute; such as referral to a relevant ombudsman service.
There are certain things that parties should do before issuing a claim and relevant pre-action protocols to follow. If procedures are not followed there could be cost consequences even if ultimately your claim is successful.
Will I recover all my costs and damages?
Before deciding to pursue a claim it is worth considering the financial position of your opponent. This is because you need to be sure that they have the necessary finances in terms of assets or insurance to be able to meet a judgment against them. Stephensons' dispute resolution team can assist you with this due diligence exercise so that you can decide whether to pursue a claim.
It can also depend on the value of your claim whether you are entitled to recover your legal costs. Generally for claims allocated to the small claims track, ie the value of the claim is less than £10,000, the majority of your legal costs are not recoverable.
Even in high value cases a court is unlikely to award the losing party to pay all your legal costs that you have incurred. Therefore, you will normally still be responsible to pay the shortfall in these circumstances.
How long will it take to reach a resolution?
There is no easy answer here. Some disputes can resolve quicker than others. The more complex a case is, the longer it is likely to take to settle. Some cases can take a number of years to resolve whilst other cases can take months and even weeks. There is no set precedent of how long a case will take to reach a conclusion as there a number of variables which can affect this.
Are there any time limits for bringing a claim?
Yes, depending on the type of case you are bringing depends on the relevant limitation date to bring a claim. Generally, for breach of contract cases there is a time period of six years to start a claim in the court starting from the date of any breach of contract. However, in any cases which allege negligence the time runs from the date of the loss. It is important to note that these two dates can be different and quite often the date of the loss can happen much later than the date of the breach of contract. There are various ways of extending time limits but this can make the litigation riskier if your opponent raises limitation as a defence. If you do not start a claim in the court before a relevant limitation date expires then your claim is likely to be unsuccessful. It is therefore vital that you seek early advice from a solicitor once you become aware of a dispute. Failure to do so can affect your chances of being able to pursue your claim through the courts.