Going to Court
Proceedings are often involved and stressful. We are here to guide you through the often complex procedural difficulties that arise in cases whilst always being mindful of your best interests. If representation is required we will advise you on whether it is best to have specialist (barristers) representing you and the cost involved.
Making or defending a court claim
A court case starts with one side in a dispute issuing a claim in the county court or the high court. Details are then sent to the defendant. The defendant can admit liability, make an offer to settle or defend the claim.
If the defendant decides to defend the claim, the case is allocated to one of three tracks.
- Small claims – typically up to £10,000 but sometimes larger – are usually allocated to the small claims track. This is the cheapest and least formal procedure; you may be able to handle a small claims case yourself. Though we do offer assistance in preparing docusments and may be able to deal with these cases on a fixed fee basis.
- Larger cases (up to £25,000) are allocated to the fast track, which also uses somewhat simplified procedures.
- The largest cases go to the multi-track. Legal advice is strongly recommended for fast track or multi-track cases.
Whatever track the case takes, the court will issue directions saying what you need to do to prepare for the hearing and setting out a timetable. Each side will need to disclose relevant documents to each other before the hearing. Missing any deadlines may mean that you lose your right to continue the claim.
Who Pays the Court costs?
Finally, the court will make its decision, including deciding who should pay which legal costs. Although you may be able to appeal against a decision, this can be difficult and will inevitably increase costs further.
If your matter is worth less than £10,000 (and is dealt with in the Small Claims Court) then neither party is entitled to their legal costs irrespective of whether you have won or lost the case (except Personal Injury) claims under the small claims limit is £10,000). If your claim is worth more than £5,000, the general rule is that the losing side will have to pay your costs. Costs will however be subject to assessment and the winning side is expected to recover 70% of their costs. However other factors such as previous hearings and conduct of the parties will be taken into consideration.
In certain specific circumstances, Owen White & Catlin can represent parties on a no win, no fee basis. This is subject to a number of factors, including the volume of claims, the merits of the case and the financial circumstances of the opponent. The decision whether or not to deal with the claim on a no win, no fee basis is entirely at the discretion of the partners at Owen White & Catlin.
If the claim is dealt with on a no win, no fee basis, then it means that in the event of an unsuccessful outcome, you would not normally be liable for our legal fees.
We can also advise you on obtaining an After the Event insurance policy which would cover you against your opponent’s legal fees and disbursement if you lost, and potentially your own disbursements.
Non-personal injury claims with a value of under £10,000 cannot be dealt with on a no win, no fee basis, because the costs are not recoverable from the opponent.
In certain specific cases, we can also deal with a claim on a contingency fee basis, again entirely at the discretion of the partners.