Deciding To Litigate
Going to court with a business issue should always be a last resort, and where possible you should always try to negotiate a solution to your issues (see our blog – Resolving Business Disputes The Painless Way). However if this can’t be done, then the next stage is to decide whether it is possible (or advisable) to go to court. Litigation in business circles is a tricky business, and unless you have a very strong case with a lot of evidence, it’s often risky too. This is why we suggest that you keep a written record of every communication from the moment you suspect a dispute – even if it turns out to be nothing. Of course, it’s not just a financial loss you may suffer from a court case, but it is also a major distraction form running your business.
One of the main things to remember when taking a case to court is that, while if you win the other side has to pay some of your legal costs, they don’t have to pay all of them. That means that if they are unable to pay for any reason (for example they have gone out of business since your case) then you may not be able to recover your full investment in the case, and still end up out of pocket. It’s also important to bear in mind that if you lose, you not only have to pay your legal fees, but some of the other sides too.
Making Or Defending A Court Claim
If you decide that progressing to court is the right move for you, then you need to start making your case. If you haven’t already, you should consult with a lawyer or solicitor, who can help guide you through the difficult times ahead. You start the process by submitting a claim to the local court, details of which are then sent to the defendant. At this stage the case could be won, as the defendant can admit liability, they can settle or they can dispute the claim.
If they chose to defend the claim, the case is allocated to a specific court dedicated to dealing with that size of claim. This is typically split between small claims court (who deal with cases up to £10,000) or large/multi track courts, who deal with cases over £25,000. From this stage, the court will issue instructions about dates, times and presenting any evidence on either side. They will also issue you (possibly via your solicitor) a document informing you of what you need to do to prepare for the hearing and a brief timetable for the proceedings. You will need to have all your evidence and any other documents ready before the first part of the hearing, and missing any deadlines may lose you the right to continue the claim.
You will be given the change to make your case, as will the defendant. The court will then make their decision and assign the payments of any monies, including who is responsible for paying legal costs. If you are unhappy with the decision the court has made you can appeal against it, but this can be incredibly difficult, time consuming and costly (especially in small claims court).
Regardless of the legal expertise you require, Guillaumes have decades of expereince in a variety of areas. With the help of our commercial property solcitors, employment solicitors and business dispute lawyers, you'll be well-equipped to combat any business issue. Contact us today for more information