Civil Litigation

Civil litigation is a broad term that can cover a wide range of different disputes between two or more parties. Also known as ‘dispute resolution’, it’s a process where a dispute is resolved by use of the Civil courts, although at all times parties will be encouraged to engage in alternative dispute resolution (ADR), to find less costly and time consuming solutions.

Commercial litigation falls under the umbrella of civil litigation but more accurately describes disputes that arise in the context of business and other commercial activities.

Regardless of whether a dispute is classified as ‘civil’ or ‘commercial’, it will broadly follow a similar process. Disputes between businesses will, in many instances, be more complicated, and might, for instance, include cross-border issues.

How to fund civil litigation

Civil litigation can be costly and should not be entered into without careful consideration. ADR may offer a more affordable and cost-effective solution so every avenue should be explored prior to entering into civil proceedings. If you decide to proceed with a civil litigation dispute there are a variety of means by which to fund it. Some of the options include:

  • Private fee paying
  • Conditional Fee Agreement (commonly known as a ‘no win no fee’)
  • Damages Based Agreement
  • Legal Expenses Insurance
  • Union Representation

At Richardson Lissack, we will be upfront about the likely costs so your decision about whether or not to proceed can be properly informed.

Where might civil litigation occur?

There are a wide range of disputes and conflicts of interest where civil litigation could occur, including:

Contractual disputes

Breaches of contract can occur in a variety of circumstances where one party to a contract fails to perform their duties.  Contracts can either be in writing or arise orally where the necessary elements of a contract are present (offer, acceptance, consideration and intention).  Legal advice can assist in identifying the terms of the contract, what breaches have occurred and what claims may be available to a party, whether that is a claim for money or other relief, such as an order for performance of the contract terms.

Company/shareholder disputes

Disputes can arise in business between a company its directors, for example in circumstances where a director has breached their fiduciary duties.  In those circumstances, legal advice may be necessary to consider what steps can be taken by the company to remove the director.

Issues can also arise between a company and its shareholders and, in such circumstances, shareholders may need advice to consider taking steps to potentially have the company wound up by the courts or, where there is concern that the company is being run in a manner that is prejudicial to the its members, minority shareholders can apply to the court to have their shares purchased at fair value.

Partnership disputes

Partnership disputes commonly arise in circumstances where partners have fallen out in respect of the direction of the partnership or, where partners are looking to exit, the terms of that exit. Legal advice may therefore be sought by the partnership itself, or individual partners.

Professional negligence

Professional negligence claims arise where appointed professionals have failed to act to the required standard which has resulted in a loss being suffered.  Typical examples of professional negligence claims include actions against solicitors, accountants or surveyors.  Legal advice can assist in establishing the scope of a professional’s duty, together with whether the actions of the professional have resulted in a breach of that duty and an assessment of what losses have been suffered because of the breach.

Commercial/residential property disputes

Disputes between landlords and tenants are not uncommon and often arise whether there has been a failure to pay rent, or whether one party is said to have breached the terms of their lease or tenancy agreement.  Either the landlord or tenant may therefore need legal advice regarding their obligations owed to the other party and whether they have breached the terms of their lease/tenancy.  

In certain circumstances, as well as seeking to have the breaches remedies, landlords may also wish to consider obtaining possession of the property.   Again, either the landlord or tenant may require legal advice in such circumstances.

Inheritance disputes

Wills and inheritance is a sensitive area of law where disputes all too regularly occur, for example where a person has either been left out of a will altogether or where a beneficiary wishes to contest their entitlement.  Legal advice may be sought by either the person contesting the will, or the estate of the deceased looking to defend a claim.

Commercial fraud

A further area that falls within the remit of civil litigation is the wide range of disputes that can be categorised as commercial fraud. This includes claims, in the commercial context, where there are allegations of deceit, fraudulent misrepresentation or the commission of breach of trust or breach of a fiduciary duty, for example.

How Richardson Lissack can help

In most cases, disputes can and should be resolved through informal arrangements or alternative dispute resolution (ARD). Richardson Lissack are experienced at negotiating for our clients and will look to resolve issues in the most cost-effective way.

Unfortunately, it’s not always possible or desirable to find a resolution without recourse to the civil courts. In such cases, we will offer professional guidance through all of the processes involved, whether you are making or defending a court action. We will provide a realistic assessment of the likely costs involved, as well as how long reaching a resolution is likely to take.

Richardson Lissack has experience in dealing with a variety of civil litigation claims, whether acting for individuals or businesses.

Our lawyers are available 24/7 to assist you and provide legal advice. Contact London 020 3753 5352 or Manchester 0161 834 7284. Alternatively you can email