|Approach to costs
Solicitors at Humphreys & Co. always aim to approach
legal work in a financially-disciplined way. We offer
competitive rates. Our charging approach is both transparent
and geared to the options open to our clients. Our
solicitors generally charge by reference to time spent but
we can often agree fixed fees for specific work or in some
cases risk-adjusted funding structures.
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|Litigation Lawyers: London, Bristol & UK Regional Civil Courts. Dispute resolution, arbitration, mediation & litigation solicitors for UK & international clients. Litigation lawyers with determination, costs discipline & direction.|
Solicitors here are strong in litigation, arbitration and other dispute resolution mechanisms. The firm has strength in depth in litigation in a large number of fields of activity, including company shareholder disputes, insurance, technology, internet, investments, insolvency, land, farming, building and construction, accountancy, banking, entertainment, sport, holiday claims and boundary disputes.
Solicitors here are experienced in and we have the resources to conduct litigation pursuing and defending causes of action in negligence, nuisance, libel, intellectual property, breach of contract and misrepresentation.
Our solicitors here can also advise on and take proceedings for judicial review of administrative decisions and causes of action such as misfeasance in public office.
|We can offer a fixed charge initial analysis of your case with options and recommendations|
The pre-action stage
Before litigation proceedings are commenced the first thing a solicitor will do is identify his client’s circumstances and objectives. For example, the client may be in a dispute with a valuable trading partner, meaning that ways of preserving the relationship between the parties after the dispute need to be considered.
Other points that a solicitor will address at this stage of the litigation include:
- limitation periods (whether the statutory period within which the claim must be brought has expired)
- solvency of the defendant (it is not worth pursuing litigation against a party known to be on the verge of being wound-up or being made bankrupt)
- methods of funding the litigation such as no win no fee agreements
- consideration of available methods of alternative dispute resolution
- compliance with the Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct and any relevant protocols (which set out the procedure that parties to litigation must follow).
Procedurally the most important step at this stage is the issuing of a letter before claim (or its equivalent as determined by a pre-action protocol), which sets out the nature of the case against the defendant and may facilitate early settlement by providing information early on in the litigation. This should be followed by a letter of response from the defendant.
Commencement of proceedings
Should the dispute fail to be resolved at the pre-action stage, formal litigation proceedings are commenced by issuing a claim form and serving it on the defendant. Either at the same time or shortly after, the claimant must also serve full particulars of their claim against the defendant.
The court will allocate the claim to a track and issue management directions which will function as both parties’ timetable for the litigation going forward. This will give the parties a clear deadline (the anticipated trial date) to which they will be working with various major landmarks along the way, such as the disclosure of relevant material held by both parties and the exchange of witness statements.
It is during this stage of the litigation that the solicitors for both parties will consider making an application for interim orders such as an order to strike out the other side’s case or an order for interim payment into court on account of damages.
Attempts to resolve the dispute before trial will be considered at various points throughout the litigation but if these prove unsuccessful the claimant and defendant will put their cases to a judge in court. A small claims trial can be relatively informal and parties do not need to comply with the rules of evidence. Fast-track and multi-track trials involve more restrictive rules of evidence and procedure. At the end of the trial the judge will make a ruling as to costs and the general rule is that the loser will pay the winner’s costs of the litigation.
After the trial one party may decide to lodge an appeal. There may also be a hearing before a costs judge (known as a detailed assessment) to determine the amount of the winner’s costs. In most cases the loser of the trial will comply with the judgment against them. If they do not, the winner will consider methods of enforcing the judgment such as through the use of bailiffs. It is prudent to consider the possibility of difficulties arising at this stage before litigation is commenced.
Alternative dispute resolution
Arbitration involves an independent third party (or parties) reaching a decision which is binding on the parties in dispute and enforceable as if it were a judgment. Arbitration clauses are frequently contained in business contracts and where this is the case the parties are compelled to use this method of ADR before contemplating other methods. Alternatively the parties can volunteer to submit to the process. It can offer a number of advantages (though its appropriateness needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis) such as relative speed compared to litigation, privacy, the ability to select an arbitrator with expertise in the relevant field and the possibility of coming to a solution that is more practical than a trial judge could impose.
In mediation a neutral third party, the mediator, assists two or more parties in order to help them achieve an agreement on a matter in which they are in dispute. Mediation is now widely recognised in the UK and Europe as the most popular form of alternative dispute resolution as it offers solutions beyond those that a court could ordinarily impose and can be used to settle disputes in a whole range of situations.
Mediation is a voluntary process and will only take place if both parties agree. Both parties share the cost of mediation, which will depend on the value and complexity of the claim. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, they can still go to court, and anything discussed at the mediation is completely confidential.
Solicitors at Humphreys & Co are experienced in mediation, and find that clients benefit from being able to put their case forward at a more affordable price and without the uncertainty and stress of going to court.
Conciliation is a process similar to mediation used in the construction industry whereby a conciliator seeks to facilitate a settlement between the parties. The conciliator (who under the contract can often either be agreed between the parties or appointed by the Federation of Master Builders in the absence of agreement) does not decide any issues of law or fact but conducts a process whereby each party states its position and then attempts to work towards a compromise.
Any settlement achieved is then set down in writing in document binding upon the parties as a new contract. The costs of conciliation are the time of the conciliator and the venue for the conciliation. Parties do not have to be represented. Conciliation can only take place if both parties so agree, whether in the contract or after a dispute arises. Conciliation can be an effective way of reaching agreement over eliminating some of the parties' more unreasonable requests.
The aim of adjudication is to resolve disputed issues in order to enable work to continue, either indefinitely or while awaiting the decision of a judge or arbitrator. Adjudication is a more formal mechanism for dispute resolution that is designed to be quicker and cheaper than arbitration or litigation. A third party adjudicator, usually a technical expert in the relevant field, decides the (generally factual) issues between the parties. Adjudication has a statutory basis under s.108 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996. The adjudicator’s decision is binding upon the parties and may be the subject of appeal or enforcement in the courts.
An evaluator's opinion aims to help you to decide how to handle your dispute and may enable you to reach a solution.
We take instructions from UK & international clients. Our independent lawyers are available by email, telephone & fax. With central Bristol offices we are just 90 minutes from London by road or rail and 15 minutes from Bristol International Airport. We can travel to meetings if required.
We are an independent professional law firm here, not a legal factory turning out mass-produced products. In our experience, determined case-handling is more likely to produce effective results.
Solicitors at Humphreys & Co. look to input not only
careful legal work and precision but also the determination
to keep matters moving. They aim to work in clients' real
interests with energy and pragmatism.
Solicitors at Humphreys & Co. always try to open up the
legal process by giving advice and explaining options to
clients in a concise and straightforward way, identifying
clear courses of action whatever the technical or legal
complexities of the subject.