Civil Litigation Frequently Asked Questions
How do I sue someone?
Court proceedings are started by completing a claim form and paying the court fee. For claims about money, this can be done online here. You will need to register as a new user if you do not already have an account. The courts follow rules of procedure including the Pre Action Protocol, which requires you to notify the other party in writing that you intend to start court proceeding against them and give them a reasonable time (usually around 7-14 days) to respond. If they fail to respond within the specified time then you can start court proceedings. If you do not warn them first then this can reduce your chances of recovering your legal fees even if you win.
What is professional negligence?
Professional negligence occurs when a professional (such as a solicitor, architect or accountant) does not perform their work to a reasonable standard. This standard is the level of service expected from a reasonable professional in that field. For example, an accountant giving poor financial advice which causes a client to miss out on certain tax-reliefs and as a result the client suffers a large tax bill.
Do I have a professional negligence claim?
In order to succeed in a professional negligence claim you need to prove three things. Firstly, the professional owed you a duty of care ie. they had some responsibility towards you. Secondly, the professional breached that duty ie. they failed to do what they should have done. And thirdly, you suffered a loss, such as financial or physical damage, as a direct result of that breach of duty ie. your loss was caused by their mistake.
What is section 21 notice?
A section 21 notice is also known as a “notice of possession” or “no fault eviction” and is used when a Landlord requires the Tenant to move out of a rented property by a specific date. It only applies to assured shorthold tenancies which is the most common type of private tenancy in England and Wales. A Landlord does not have to give any reason for serving the section 21 notice but there are a number of requirements that a Landlord must comply with before the notice is valid. The minimum notice period under a section 21 notice is two months, after which the landlord can apply to court for eviction which usually takes a further 6-8 weeks.
What is section 8 notice?
A section 8 notice is also known as a “notice to quit” and is used by a Landlord to terminate a tenancy when the Tenant has breached the agreement or owes rent. Unlike section 21 notices, section 8 notices require a Landlord to give a reason as to repossession. The minimum notice period is generally 4 weeks, after which the Landlord can apply to court which usually takes a further 6-8 weeks and the Tenant can defend themselves in court.
How to serve a valid section 8 notice?
To serve a valid section 8 notice, a Landlord must send it to the Tenant by post or preferably in person. If there is more than one Tenant, the notice must be served on all Tenants using their full names as stated on the tenancy documents.
To be valid the section 8 notice must contain certain prescribed items of information, such as names and addresses of the parties, the date the notice is served, repossession date and the statutory ground the Tenant has breached.
Is it worth it to take someone to small claims court?
Going to court should be the last resort as it can end up costing more time and money than the original dispute is worth. The normal rules state that any claim below £10,000 will be allocated to the small claims court and that neither side can recover their legal costs from the other side. Therefore, it is worth considering how much it is likely to cost to take someone to court and your chance of success before issuing court proceedings. It is also worth considering alternatives to court, such as mediation or arbitration.
Can I sue a company?
Yes, as long as the company is operating and solvent. If the company is dormant or has entered into formal insolvency or enforcement process, then there may be legal restrictions on bringing a claim against the company. You can check on the status of a company at Companies House. You should also consider whether the company is worth suing commercially ie. does it have any money? There is no guaranteed way to find out this information, but you can often pay for a “pre litigation report” which can be helpful.
Do I need a lawyer or solicitor to sue someone?
No. You can always act for yourself as a litigant in person. I would suggest that it is always useful to have some advice from a solicitor who has acted in similar matters before, because a solicitor can help you with the process, points of law and can also advise you generally on whether your claim is commercially viable. You can also take advice whilst acting in person and in that way you can control the costs of legal advice.
If you would like to know more please visit our Dispute Resolution and Civil Litigation page.
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