In 2013 the civil courts underwent a substantial change, known as the Jackson Reforms.
The Reforms reflect a change in court attitudes and especially their desire to settle civil disputes more efficiently, to the benefit of the parties and the public purse.
The courts insist that cases be dealt with ‘proportionately’ and that costs should reflect the complexity and value of the dispute.
One result of the change is that courts are now stricter about complying with orders. For example, failure to provide a witness statement in time could mean the court will refuse permission for that witness to be heard – and this is just one of the sanctions available.
The most serious sanction, having your case “struck out”, is now far more common.
How to avoid Jackson Reform sanctions
- Co-operate with the other party. This may not be possible, but if you can get other party to agree with your proposed ‘directions’ (timetable), the court is more likely to approve it.
- At the first directions hearing make sure you agree realistic schedules that allow you to compile your evidence;
- If you are unable to comply with a deadline, seek your opponent’s permission for an extension;
- Get court approval. The other side may agree to an extension, but ultimately the court must grant it;
- ‘Buffer orders’ can allow an extension without court approval in some limited circumstances;
- Make sure your witnesses, experts or any others providing evidence are clear about court deadlines and the risks if they miss them.
If the court does impose sanctions you can apply to have them set aside. The court’s shift in attitude means that this is more difficult than ever before.
The best advice is to consult a solicitor if you are going to court with a dispute and to make sure you understand your obligations and what is expected of you.
- Breach of contract
- Trade disputes
- On-line traders
- Supply of defective goods/services
- Claims under personal guarantees
- Debt & asset recovery
- Ownership disputes
- Development disputes
- Option agreements
- Boundary disputes
- Adverse possession
- Rights of way
- Enforcing securities
- Restrictions & encumbrances
- Land Registry applications
- Property/estate management
- Service charges
- Payment/certification disputes
- Building defects
- Sub-contractor disputes
- JCT, NEC, RIBA & similar design/build agreements
Landlord & Tenant disputes
- Rent arrears
- Guarantor’s liability
- Recovering possession
- Protected lease renewals
- Breach of covenant
- Disrepair claims
- Unlawful assignment/sub-letting
- Break clauses
- Rent reviews
- Administrators & receivers
- Recovery of recruitment fees
- Disputed cause of introduction
- Candidate suitability
- Dual introducers
- Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003
- Ownership and transfers of equity
- Unfair prejudice claims
- Derivative actions
- Partnership dissolution & winding up
- Bank mis-selling
- SWAPS/LIBOR claims
Protection of Intellectual Property rights
- Domain name disputes/cyber squatting
- Passing off
- Breach of confidentiality
- Copyright and trademark infringement
Making a claim for negligent advice
The client asked us to consider and advise on the conduct of their former solicitors during both of the cases. We careful analysed many files and documents, including the former solicitors’ files, and concluded that the client had a claim.
We pursued the solicitors for negligent advice and handling of the cases, with a view to recovering our client’s losses. This involved extensive dealings with the firm, through their professional indemnity insurers and city lawyers.
They refused to pay the claim, despite being provided with considerable supporting evidence and legal argument during various attempts to negotiate and settle the dispute.
Pursuing the professional negligence case in the High Court
We started High Court proceedings, which the former solicitors defended by denying the allegations and raising a number of technical legal points.
Ultimately we exerted sufficient pressure in the litigation to force a settlement before the case reached trial, resulting in our client recovering a six-figure sum. This represented the vast majority of all legal costs they had paid, as well as Verisona Law’s legal fees.
Individual Property Owner
“Verisona Law dealt with a complicated dispute with a former manufacturing supplier forced into administrative receivership. Their clear, calm advice never wavered: their tenacity and diligence provided our company with a successful result”.
MD of Textile Wholesaler
"Having recently used Verisona Law to help recover a commercial debt due to us, I would highly recommend them. Jeremy was very professional and helpful, giving information throughout the case, and he was also very calm which really helped us."
"I would like to thank you for the first class service we have received from you. Your advice and the professional way you treated us throughout culminated in a result which, prior to your appointment, seemed a long way away."