FAQ - Civil Litigation
What is civil litigation?
This is the process whereby one party brings a claim against another via court proceedings. One party will usually be seeking compensation, damages or specific performance from the other. In civil matters, this will involve disputes between two private individuals, businesses or public bodies.
Will I have to go to court?
We cannot guarantee that you will not have to go to court. However, the majority of civil disputes are settled before court proceedings begin, and this is generally encouraged. We can advise you on the merits of any settlement proposals, so that you can make an informed decision.
What is the difference between “small claims” and other types of claims?
Small claims are for cases that involve smaller amounts of money and do not involve complex issues. They are usually never for more than £10,000. These cases are heard in the small claims track of the civil court system. Usually, small claims cases are quick and uncomplicated – you may not even need a solicitor or barrister. If your claim has a value of between £10,000 and £25,000, it will be allocated to the fast track. These trials will generally take no longer than a day and you may need a solicitor. Claims that are more complicated with a value of £25,000 or more will be allocated to the multi-track. There is no standard process for this track, and it will depend on how the court can best deal with your case. These cases will usually happen in a court room before a circuit judge and you will likely need a solicitor.
Which remedies are available if my claim is successful?
This will depend on the nature of your dispute. As a claimant, you will seek a specific remedy, and at trial, a judge will decide on the appropriate remedy to give. The most common remedies are:
- Damages (a sum of money in compensation)
- Injunctions (the defendant may be prevented from doing something, or may have to do something)
- Declarations (a statement of the rights and legal position of the parties)
- Possession orders (orders for possession of land or property)
Will the other party pay my legal costs if I am successful in my claim?
If your claim is worth less than £10,000, it is generally accepted that both parties will pay their own costs. For other cases, this will depend as it is usually up to the Court to decide whether to award costs. The parties can also make an agreement between themselves before the court is asked to make an award. The general rule is that the loser will pay the winner’s costs. However, this is not guaranteed as the Court may use their discretion, where the winning party’s conduct has been unreasonable at any time – for example if they refuse mediation they may have to cover their own legal fees.