Five things to remember if your dispute goes legal
If you have a problem and think you might need legal advice, the following points are worth bearing in mind.
- The commercial reality
If you feel you have been wronged and want justice, it can be difficult to focus on the bigger picture. However, no matter the legal or moral merits, it is essential that the commercial reality of the legal process and associated costs, time and stress, are kept at the forefront of your mind at every stage of the process.
- Documents, documents, documents
Each party to a dispute has to provide access to relevant documents, including ones that do not support their case, to the other party. The obligation to preserve relevant documents arises when the dispute does, and recent changes in the Court Rules mean that your legal team will need a full understanding of the documents available early on in the proceedings. You will need to retain relevant documents and should not acquire additional documents from third parties without speaking to your legal team first.
- The Court rules
The Court has overall management of a dispute and will determine the timetable for each stage of the proceedings, with input from the parties. This results in a key part of the process being to some extent outside of the parties’ control, which should be kept in mind when considering the reality of the legal process. The Court takes breaches of its timetable without good reason seriously and if you think you cannot follow the timetable, you should inform your legal team as soon as possible.
- The Court Rules
Civil legal proceedings are governed by the Civil Procedure Rules (as well as other laws). The CPR has an overriding objective – to enable the court to deal with cases justly and at proportionate cost. You and your legal team have a responsibility to uphold this objective and any strategy adopted should respect it.
- Your best interests – the choice is yours.
It is vital that you are honest with your legal team about what you hope to achieve from the process so that they can (1) do their best to get you there and (2) provide you with advice on how likely it will be to achieve that outcome. With that information, it is for you to decide how to proceed, and the four points above should assist with that decision.
If you have a problem that you think needs escalating or assessing, please contact Hannah Proctor on firstname.lastname@example.org.