2 buildings looking up at them

Civil Litigation from both sides

Litigation is the principal means by which parties in England and Wales attempt to resolve civil disputes.

The process is governed by the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR), and each party has to persuade a judge of the merits of their case on the balance of probabilities.

The rules vary depending on the value of the claim and the nature of the case.

Each case has its own unique elements, but proceedings themselves usually follow similar steps. 

Before proceedings commence

Both the claimant and defendant may choose to be represented by a legal professional, although it is possible to represent yourself.

Civil litigation proceedings can be complex, and every opportunity should be taken to reach a resolution before it reaches court.

A solicitor should explore every avenue to do so before formal legal proceedings are initiated.

One of the means through which this is attempted is Pre-Action Protocol.

This invites the respective parties to exchange information and either settle the issue or at least narrow its scope.

If that proves unsuccessful, the matters of real and ongoing contention are then brought before the court.

Taking the issue to court

If court action cannot be avoided, the claimant can commence proceedings.

This is done by issuing a claim form to the appropriate court for their case.

That same form is then served on the defendant, and usually contains details of the claim’s particulars and any key points underpinning it.

The legal basis will be clearly outlined as well as the resolution the claimant is seeking. 

The defendant has to respond in writing to the claimant’s points within 14 days.

Alternatively, they can send an acknowledgement of service to the court within the same period, which gives the defendant 28 days to outline their position.

Taken together, the particulars of claim, the defence, and any subsequent reply are referred to as ‘pleadings’.

Case Management Conference

The next step is typically the Case Management Conference (CMC).

This involves the parties attending a hearing where a judge will look to establish how the case will be managed right up to trial.  The CMC can also be used to set limits on the parties’ costs (known as a Costs and Case Management Conference). 

This is likely to be the first time that the parties will have to appear before the court. 


The first direction given by the court at a CMC will usually involve disclosure where each party makes available relevant documentation relating to the claim.

That might include papers, email correspondence, mobile phone communications, and deleted electronic data.

The objective at this stage is to declare anything that supports the case of those involved in the litigation however, parties are also required to disclose documentation that could potentially support the other party’s case and adversely affect their own.

Witness statements and expert evidence

Witness statements that can provide additional detail of the dispute, and back up documentation supplied, will be required.

These should provide factual evidence rather than giving an opinion.

Witness statements are typically prepared by a solicitor based on the words of the witness, who then signs it.

Expert evidence may also be needed, and the court reserves the right to direct each party to appoint a single joint expert or allow them to instruct their own.

They will provide a written report, which is sent to the court and the opposing party.

The court can ask experts to attend trial to be question on their opinion.

Pre-trial review

Finally, a pre-trial review (PTR) verifies that the parties involved in litigation have complied with the timetable and any other court orders.

It fixes a date for trial and finalises an appropriate timeframe along with a list of issues to be determined.

The court will also consider any remaining opportunities for alternative methods of resolving the dispute without a trial.

At the trial

If all attempts at resolution have failed, the parties will usually instruct barristers to present their case to the judge.

The role of a barrister is to explain the law, presenting any relevant case law if appropriate, as well as drawing the court’s attention to relevant documents.

They will also cross-examine the opposing party’s witnesses and experts, who will also give their evidence. 

At the conclusion, the judge will make a decision.

This may be delayed until later so they sufficient time to consider all the evidence presented.

Once a judgement has been made, any sum of money ordered to be paid from one party to another must be honoured.

If there are any difficulties enforcing a judgement or costs order, options to recover the money include instructing bailiffs, petitioning for bankruptcy, or making an order of sale. 

For more information about civil litigation proceedings, either as a claimant or defendant, contact the professional and experienced team at Richardson Lissack. 




Understanding Claims Arising from Restrictive Covenants in Contracts of Employment

Restrictive covenants are commonly included in employment contracts to protect an employer’s legitimate business interests, such as confidential...


Understanding the Seller’s Property Information Form (TA6) and its Implications

When buying a property in the UK, one of the most important documents you will receive from the seller is the Seller’s Property Information Form...


Recruitment Agency Fees: How to Resolve Disputes Over Unpaid Fees

Recruitment agencies play a vital role in the hiring process, connecting employers with job seekers and facilitating recruiting the right people for a...


Bringing a Professional Negligence Claim: What You Need to Know

As a client of a professional, such as a solicitor, accountant, or surveyor, you expect them to provide you with a certain level of service and expert...


Purchasing/selling your horse; everything you need to know

There are many risks involved when purchasing ‘goods’; that is why legislation has been put in place to assist in providing protection to consumer...

2 buildings looking up at them

Professional Negligence Claims

We rely on the opinions of professionals to help us make important decisions about, for example, our legal and financial affairs. This work can be ext...

2 buildings looking up at them

Common issues relating to civil litigation

The process of pursuing civil litigation sounds simple enough. When a dispute arises you set out a claim against your opponent and detail the resoluti...

2 buildings looking up at them

Three basic stages of civil litigation

Not without reason do civil litigation proceedings have a reputation for being both lengthy and potentially costly.  Therefore, it’s important to h...

2 buildings looking up at them

How to prepare your business for an IR35 civil investigation

Despite best efforts to ensure that your business is compliant with IR35 legislation, HMRC may still  open an investigation. If you receive notificat...

Let’s work together

Contact Us

arrow-downarrow-left-greyarrow-leftarrow-right-0c2535 arrow-right-ffffff arrow-right-greyarrow-rightbullet-icon-whitebullet-iconcloseicon-connecticon-cross-double icon-cross-right icon-email icon-nav-lefticon-nav-righticon-phoneicon-pinicon-reachlawyer-linkedin-icon nav-menu-arrow rl-logo-icon social_facebooksocial_googleplussocial_instagramsocial_linkedin_altsocial_linkedin_altsocial_pinterestlogo-twitter-glyph-32social_youtube