Handling your own court case - it can be done

Posted: Thursday, 11 April 2013 @ 10:07

The recent changes in court cost rules mean that more and more business owners are likely to be forsaking solicitors and putting together their own cases and representing themselves in court. These Litigants in Person (LIPs) have a potential minefield of rules and regulations governing court proceedings to navigate if they are to be successful and get the results they want.

Even before the case reaches the courtroom there are some important points for the business owner to consider:

The strength of your case - do you have a good case and what are your chances of success? How should you assemble this evidence to make a convincing case?

Options to solve your dispute - is court the right solution? Should you be trying to negotiate with the other party, suggesting mediation or other methods of dispute resolution?

Protocols and procedures – do you know the legal procedures relevant for your particular case? How do you make or defend a claim? What is likely to happen and when? Which documents must you produce?

How to express yourself – how do you word letters to your opponent to generate the desired response? How do you avoid tripping yourself up in correspondence and giving away important points of evidence or inflaming a situation unnecessarily?

Court hearings – how do you prepare for a court hearing? What documents will be required? Do you need to supply witness statements, if so, how should they be worded? Are you clear in the court deadlines and the penalties for missing them?

Making a case - What are the first steps you should take and what should you avoid? How can you avoid making matters worse and try to reach as swift a conclusion as possible, with the minimum disruption to your business?

Attempting to navigate all of these questions could be challenging for the business owner. But you don’t have to act alone. A litigation or dispute resolution solicitor can provide advice and support at each stage, giving as little or as much input as is needed. With the right help you will be clear on:

  • The strength of your case and how to mitigate any weaknesses 
  • Whether your case is worth fighting
  • The best tactics to employ to achieve your desired outcome 
  • The court procedures, timescales and protocols so that you don’t fall down on a technicality

My advice is to consult a solicitor at the earliest possible stage, if for nothing other than to find out whether you have a case worth fighting. Decide on which elements you need expert help with and which elements you can deal with yourself.

And remember, early action will almost always save costs in the long run.

Nigel Musgrove

Business and Litigation Solicitor
Tel: 0845 003 5639

Blog by Nigel Musgrove
Nigel has been providing dispute resolution advice as a solicitor for over 35 years. As well as advising SMEs and business owners on disputes he also offers a specialist licensing law service. View profile
Call Nigel on +44 (0)1285 847 001 or by email
This blog is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor is it intended to be a complete and authoritative statement of the law, and what we say might be out of date by the time you read it. You should always seek legal advice to confirm whether or how any information in this article applies to your particular situation. We offer a free telephone consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.

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