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
“Many thanks for your valuable advice and expertise in this matter, I will certainly recommend your services to contacts of mine that might need legal advice”.
Independent bank customers
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
Defending against the receiver’s claim for payment
The receiver vigorously pursued our client for payment, denying that any assurances were made or that the goods were defective.
Despite the threat of legal proceedings our client resisted the claim for payment and instructed us to counterclaim damages on the grounds of misrepresentation, breach of contract and implied terms under the Sale of Goods Act.
We gathered detailed evidence and submitted our analysis to the receiver’s solicitors. This led to a fierce exchange of letters, involving complex argument as to the legal effect of the supplier’s receivership on the claim.
A positive commercial outcome
Ultimately we persuaded the liquidator to drop the claim. Our client was allowed to retain the goods and sold them on as an end-of-line product at a small profit.
“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”.
Managing Director of Textile Wholesaler
Successful Wholesale Textile Company