The process of pursuing civil litigation sounds simple enough. When a dispute arises you set out a claim against your opponent and detail the resolution you require. If that doesn’t happen, you then issue a claim at court. The defendant then sets out in a defence which it disputes your claim. The necessary documentation is provided, witness evidence is produced, experts are called and, if a resolution can’t be found, the matter reaches court. The judge will then decide who is right and wrong at the trial.
As simple as it all sounds, any process with a human element is always prone to problems arising. Civil litigation issues can and do arise. A well-advised client should know whether or not it’s worth pursuing a claim as well as any problems that could occur.
Remember it’s a dispute
The key point to remember with civil litigation is that it’s a dispute, and usually a serious one at that. By the time it reaches court every opportunity for resolution should have been exhausted. An experienced legal professional will be skilled at spotting means by which to resolve the issue before it goes before a judge. When you issue a claim the defendant will resist. When you have a claim issued against you the claimant is unlikely to quietly go away. Therefore, it’s important to expect difficulties and challenges that may be upsetting, but to never lose sight that resolution is the ultimate goal.
Mistakes with forms and other documentation
Mistakes on the claim form and other documentation can create all kinds of problems for the parties involved. Names can be entered in error, company names submitted rather than the name of the company owner and vice versa, the wrong defendant may be named, and other small errors of detail can all result in hold-ups and delays.
In more extreme cases it may even result in the claim being struck out. Filling in any documentation needs to be done with the utmost care which is why it will usually be left to a legal representative. Extra attention to detail and verification is essential if an issue is to be avoided.
Failure to ask questions
There are two common errors that both claimants and defendants make during civil litigation. For most people, litigation is an entirely new territory. There is much in the process that can be confusing and stressful. Your legal representative is there to offer advice and answer questions. By relaying what’s on your mind you may offer insight and support for your claim or defence that hadn’t previously been apparent.
Parties who choose to defend themselves miss out on this valuable opportunity to gain information, guidance and reassurance. Others may have legal representation but don’t communicate, causing important points to be missed.
Lack of substantive evidence
Another common civil litigation issue is when parties fail to provide enough substantive or relevant evidence. The more evidence you can provide and the sooner you can provide it the greater chance you will have of success. That said, not all evidence is equally important. Parties who represent themselves may be more likely to muster quantities of evidence that doesn’t support the detail of their claim.
A legal representative will assess the evidence they receive and ensure that only the most pertinent and relevant is submitted. They will also look to fill in the gaps in any evidence that might be important to the case.
Keep your cool
Civil litigation cases are, understandably, often emotionally charged. Feelings can run high throughout the process, not least when the case finally reaches the court. Too much emotion can not only be a hindrance to finding a resolution before the claim reaches court but can work against a party during the court case.
You get no points for petulant or rude behaviour, or for rejecting what may appear reasonable or logical to the court. Litigation is a legal attempt to establish what actually took place, and then an attempt to put things right. Parties who choose to represent themselves often lack the emotional distance required to properly present a logical and substantive case backed up by firm evidence. As a result, it may hand an advantage to an opposing party with legal representation. Professional legal support understands both the process and the expectations of the court.
Be ready for an appeal
Even if you have won your claim or successfully defended a claim against you, that may not be the end of the story. It’s not uncommon for a losing party to seek permission to appeal. It can be used to exert psychological pressure on the other party as well as to buy extra time.
Often, winning parties are unprepared for an appeal and the move has the desired effect on the party choosing to appeal. Therefore, the prospect of an appeal is one that parties should keep in mind as early as possible. The claim may not end neatly at the end of the first judgement.
These are just a snapshot of some of the issues people can face during a claims process. From civil litigation issues surrounding procedure, such as the Pre-Action Protocol, to errors, omissions, irregularities and irrelevance, there’s a host of potential pitfalls that mean making a claim is rarely straightforward.
To increase the chances of being successful in either making or defending a claim, experienced legal support is essential. The professional team at Richardson Lissack can assess the strength of your potential claim, or any claims against you, and then advise the best course of action. They will exhaust every potential avenue to resolve the issue short of going to court. If court is unavoidable they will ensure that you are given the best possible chance of success.
If you are considering making a claim or have received notice of a claim against you contact our professional team for confidential and informative advice.