Step 5: Issuing Proceedings
General information applicable to most Court proceedings
If it is not possible to settle a dispute amicably via mediation, then it may be that your only option is to initiate Court Proceedings. If so, it is often tricky as a Litigant in Person (“LiP”) to know where to begin or how to do this. diyLAW aims to alleviate these difficulties.
We cover here some basic information which is generic to most claims.
Are you in time to bring a claim?
The guidance for this is set out in the Limitation Act 1980 but the important information is set out in the table on the next page.
If the timeframes set out have expired, no further action can be taken. The claim will be considered as time-barred. It is important therefore to work out the time limitation of your claim. If it seems likely the matter cannot be dealt with by way of ADR ensure Court proceedings are initiated in good time before the limitation time expires.
If you are in time, be sure to look at our “How to Fill in a Particulars of Claim Form”.
Which Court should you use?
Small Claims Court
Where the claim has a value of £5,000 or less.
Where the claim has a value of £100,000 or less and for personal injury claims, the value is £50,000 or less. In addition, where the issues in dispute are not complex and it is not a matter of public interest.
Where the claim has a value exceeding £100,000 and for personal injury claims exceeding £50,000 or where the claim is for lesser amounts but where the issues are complex or the outcome is a matter of public interest. The High Court has three divisions as follows:
Deals with defamation, breach of contract, negligence, personal injury, land possession claims, non-payment of debts. The Queen’s Bench Division also includes the Commercial Court, the Technology and Construction Court, the Admiralty Court and the Commercial Court.
Deals with equity, trusts, commercial fraud, tax, intellectual property, land, business disputes, contentious probate, regulatory work, bankruptcy, professional negligence. The Chancery Division also includes the Companies, Court, the Bankruptcy Court and Patent Courts.
Family Division N/A
Tips for the drafting of documents (Please note that specialist courts may have their own specific allocation rules or thresholds).
It is very important to produce clear and concise documents within the Court proceedings to assist the Judge and the smooth running of proceedings.
Tips About Evidence
It is extremely important to ensure each claim is supported by all relevant and necessary documentation. Essentially anything can form evidence so long as it has been witnessed or documented in some way. The evidence should:
Prove/be relevant to particular facts or issues disputed
Be collated in chronological order
Be paginated/labelled for ease of reference
Be collated as soon as the decision to initiate Court proceedings has been made
Requests for copy documents from banks, authorities, etc should be made as early as possible
Examples of evidence are (not an exhaustive list):
- Business accounts
- Call logs
- Contract documents
- Diary entries
- Expert reports
- Financial statements
- GP reports
- Signed agreements
- Witness statements
Proceedings are transparent and therefore supporting evidence upon which a claimant / defendant wishes to rely must be disclosed early on or as requested at specified times throughout the proceedings.
Any evidence which is not openly disclosed usually cannot be relied upon.
If evidence is produced for the first time at trial it is likely the Judge will either:
not allow the information to be used; or
if the documents are considered as crucial evidence, it is likely the trial will be re-scheduled.
This will be to allow the other party(ies) to the proceedings time to respond to the late evidence. Such action, however, will probably lead to a ‘Wasted Costs Order’ being made against you to pay the other party(ies) costs of the wasted trial day.
Be warned! Disclose all evidence early.
Serving documents on the other side
If the other side has instructed a solicitor to act on their behalf and the solicitor is authorised to accept service of documents then the Claim Form/other documents should be sent to the solicitor. Where there is no solicitor authorised to accept service of a Claim Form / other documents then the following applies:
Service of documents in practice
Of course, you cannot know precisely when the Claim forms / documents are actually served. Accordingly the Civil Procedure Rules provide for when service of a Claim Form / other documents are deemed to have occurred. Claim forms are deemed as served on the second working day after any method of service has taken place.
Please note the following:
‘Working day’ is any day except:– Saturday, Sunday, a Bank Holiday, Good Friday, Christmas Day.
Electronic method of service – If serving the documents to a solicitor representing the other party it is important to obtain confirmation from the solicitor that they are authorised and do accept electronic service of documents. Otherwise electronic service may not be valid.