Frequently Asked Questions About Civil Litigation
How much will it cost?
We offer an initial consultation with a solicitor for a fee of £300. We will talk to you in detail about your case and consider any relevant paperwork you may have. Following your appointment we will write to you to formally advise you of your legal position and of the options for funding your case.
Will I have to go to court?
We cannot rule out the possibility that you may be required to attend court at some stage. However, the overwhelming majority of civil disputes are settled either before court proceedings begin or before the case reaches trial. We will be able to advise you on the merits of any settlement proposals so that you can make an informed decision as to how you wish to proceed.
How long will it take?
The length of time it will take to conclude your case depends on the nature and the complexity of the dispute. We will be able to provide you with a more specific timeline following initial consultation.
In most circumstances we are required to take certain steps before bringing court proceedings. Some types of claim are governed by specific Pre-Action Protocols; in other cases the Practice Direction — Pre-Action Conduct will apply. Many cases can be settled without resort to litigation, and we always strive to achieve settlement where possible. Pre-action investigation and negotiation may last no more than a couple of weeks in straightforward cases but in more complex cases it may take in excess of 6 months.
If court proceedings are begun, the case will normally be allocated to a track, based primarily on its value and complexity. The three tracks are:
- the small claims track;
- the fast track; and
- the multi-track.
As a rough guide, a small claim will generally be concluded within 6 months and a fast track claim within 9 months, whereas multi-track claims generally take over 1 year to reach trial.
How much time do I have to make a claim?
For most types of claim there is a limitation period prescribed by the Limitation Act 1980. As a rule of thumb, if you wish to bring court proceedings based on a breach of contract, you should do so within 6 years of the date on which the contract was breached, whereas a negligence claim should be brought within 6 years of the date on which you suffered loss as a result of the defendant’s lack of care. See our Personal Injury section for information on the special limitation period for personal injury claims.
However, the above time limits can be circumvented and we can advise you on limitation issues.
What are the differences between small claims and other types of claim?
You may have heard people refer to the “small claims court”. This is something of a misnomer: small claims are in fact heard in the same court and by the same judges as other types of claim. They are subject to many of the same Civil Procedure Rules as other types of claim. However, there are some significant differences:
- A claim will only be allocated to the small claims track if it is a relatively straightforward matter and the financial value of the claim is not more than £10,000.
- The court will generally take a more relaxed approach to procedure in cases which have been allocated to the small claims track.
- The successful party in a small claim will not usually be awarded more than a nominal sum for his solicitor’s fees.
The last of these features was designed to make the courts more accessible to the average person, but unfortunately the effect is often the reverse: because we cannot usually recover our fees from your opponent, we have no choice but to pass them on to you. Nevertheless, at Levins Solicitors we offer highly competitive fixed fees for small claims so that you can form a judgment at the outset as to whether your case is worth pursuing or defending.
Professional negligence claims
If you have suffered loss as a result of a mistake made by a legal professional, we can help. We have a special interest in professional negligence claims involving other firms of solicitors. Our firm’s experience and breadth of expertise across almost all areas of the law allows us to pinpoint errors made by other firms. We can then advise whether your loss is legally attributable to your solicitor’s error, which is generally the most difficult point to prove in cases of this type.
Areas we cover include Huyton, Liverpool, Merseyside, North West, North Wales, Cheshire, Lancashire