Let’s look at the benefits and things you should know about settlement in civil disputes.
Here at Tiger Law, we deal with a wide range of disputes in our civil litigation department. Settlement is a topic that always comes up, and understandably, our clients often think that accepting or even approaching settlement in civil disputes will make the other side think that they are admitting something. Here, we look at why this is not the case.
The coward’s way out – definitely not.
Whilst here at Tiger law we will always fight your corner, we will also take a look at settling disputes with you, whether they are in the pre-action stages or you are already embroiled in Court proceedings. Our clients are often taken aback by this initially, and sometimes think that we are suggesting settlement because we think that there is no merit in their cases. This couldn’t be further from the truth but we ask the question, “just how much do you want to spend on being right?”. So why is settlement worth considering? In short, going to Court should always be treated as a last resort.
Court cases take time
If you are looking to recover money that you are owed by way of Court proceedings, the reality is that many cases may take over a year from the pre-action stages before they even see the inside of a courtroom. Settling a dispute early could mean that you are paid something a lot quicker than waiting for a judge to decide the case.
Although the general rule is that ‘costs follow the win’, and therefore on winning the dispute you are likely to be awarded your legal costs to be paid by the other side, you will not see a return of your costs until after the case is decided (see above for the time issues to consider) and even then, the likelihood of being awarded these in full is pretty non-existent. In reality, the costs actually recovered by a winning side rarely exceed 75%. This means that you would, in most cases, suffer a loss of a good 25% of your legal spend even on winning.
If you lost, you would have paid all of your own legal costs, lost the matter and be ordered to pay around 75% of your opponent’s costs too. There are insurance products to help here but they don’t cover all matters.
You should also be aware that on any claim of under £10,000, recovering legal costs is almost unheard of even on winning.
Litigation is stressful. Whilst we are here to try and keep those stresses to a minimum, and we will do everything we can to help this along, litigation can take lots of unexpected and highly stressful twists and turns along the way. One of the worst times is dealing with witness statements which is often a highly inflammatory process for all parties. We would much rather you spend your efforts on dealing with the day to day running of your business than nasty Court disputes.
Aside from the personal benefits of settlement in a civil disputes, the Court like to see that the parties have attempted to settle the matter – ideally, before proceedings are issued, but also throughout the whole procedure. That’s right, the Court do not want to see you!
The Court takes the view that disputes should be at least attempted to be settled out of Court, and as solicitors, we should encourage settlement and make sure that you are aware of the option to settle. Settlement can be made at any point until the commencement of trial – even on the steps of the Courtroom.
Even if we advise you that your case has merits, we can never be 100% sure of an outcome at Court. The settlement
, therefore, eliminates this risk (the ‘litigation risk’), and the costs risks of litigation. The settlement puts you back in control of the outcome.
If settlement can’t be achieved
Even if settlement has been discussed, but the parties cannot come to an agreement, there are still massive benefits to attempting to settle before your day in Court.
Once the winner is decided, the Court will often be asked to assess the number of costs to be awarded. At this point, the parties can show the Court their attempts to settle the matter and ask the Court to take this into account when deciding how much should be awarded in costs, often being nice to the party who has attempted settlement reasonably, and not being so lenient to any party who has refused to even enter into settlement negotiations.
In conclusion, settling a matter can have benefits to all parties, saving time, stress and costs to all involved, letting them remain in control. Whilst we understand that there are pride and often principles involved, it really can be beneficial to have a matter sorted and be able to move on, rather than to have your day in Court.
We will never encourage you to settle for anything less than we think you should, and we will never agree a settlement without your express authority. But we think that there might be better ways of getting to where you want to be than a long fight.
If you would like to discuss any disputes or potential disputes with the team, please contact us.