Disputes and Claims
Initial fixed fee appointments at the rate of £225 plus VAT *
Being involved in a dispute is one of the more stressful and disconcerting experiences most of us will ever encounter. Gardner Croft‘s litigation and dispute resolution solicitors in Canterbury, Kent make resolving disputes and claims as straightforward and as quick as possible for you.
Resolving a dispute needn’t mean going to Court. There are several alternatives such as mediation and our experienced litigation solicitors in Kent will advise you on the best way to proceed.
How we work
If litigation is necessary, our team of solicitors in Kent have extensive experience of dealing with claims in the County Courts and the High Court.
Our links with barristers can ensure that you get the tailored specialist advice you need on any issue.
Common areas of dispute are:
- Disputes with tradesmen such as builders, plumbers, etc;
- Disputes with professionals such as architects, surveyors, accountants or other solicitors;
- Disputes between landlord and tenant such as claims for unpaid rent or for the return of tenancy deposits;
- Disputes regarding property such as issues with boundaries, access and rights of way or service charges;
- Disputes regarding Wills and inheritance;
- Disputes regarding goods and services
We also have particular expertise and experience in advising on problems in the workplace. Issues include:
- Unfair dismissal and severance pay
- Compromise agreements
and are dealt with by our dedicated Employment Team.
* (this fee does not include the cost of an ID check which is charged at £9.00 per client)
Frequently Asked Questions
The first stage will be for us to take your instructions. We would normally propose a meeting at which we can obtain your instructions and advise you on your case and on how to proceed.
We would then write to you setting out our understanding of your instructions and our advice so that we are all clear on our understanding of the events in your case. If we advise you to pursue the case, we could then prepare a letter to send to the other side and enter into correspondence with them to try to resolve the claim. Once we know what their take on the case is, we are normally in a better position to advise further on how to proceed. If necessary we can pursue formal litigation and seek the court’s intervention in order to get Judgment for your claim.
It is hard to give a firm guide on how long your case might take because so much depends on the nature of your case and especially how your opponent reacts. All we can give here is a general guide. Court rules generally require that the first thing to be done is to write to your opponent setting out your claim and seeking their response.
The guidelines indicate that after acknowledging that letter, they should usually be allowed up to three months to respond. After that point there should be a reasonable period for negotiations and further discussions. How long that period will be depends on many factors but mostly on how your opponent responds. If they completely reject your claim the period may be brief and the same will obviously be the case if they accept it.
Things may be more protracted if they partially accept your claim or want to drag things out. If an agreement cannot be reached at this stage, you may issue court proceedings. At that point, we are in the hands of the court and the timetable they impose. The parties will have some input into the timetable but this is generally the stage that takes longest because everything depends on the court and the availability of judges, etc. to deal with the case. The court service is incredibly overburdened and cases can take a long time to reach trial.
We would normally expect a case to reach trial within a year or so of the case starting but it can take several years depending on the size of the case and what happens along the way. We could only give a more detailed estimate after seeing you and discussing your case in detail.
The normal position with litigation is that if you succeed at trial you should receive an Order that the other party pays your costs. You would normally receive between 60-80% of your costs.
There are types of offer that you can make before trial which if are not accepted by the other party, can increase your level of costs recovery to 80-90% if you then win at trial. The Court has a discretion as to whether to award costs to the successful party. If a party’s conduct is poor during the case, it could decide to award no costs to the successful party or even to award costs to the unsuccessful party.
In practice this is very rare. The court will take into account the parties efforts to negotiate or mediate a settlement throughout the case, as well as offers made before trial when determining a suitable costs award.
You may well not have to go to Court. The emphasis these days is very much on trying to resolve issues without having to issue proceedings. Even when proceedings are issued, most cases settle without going to a final hearing.
However, there are always situations where it is simply not possible to reach agreement or where your opponent will simply not engage in discussions without the pressure of court proceedings. The experienced litigation team at Gardner Croft LLP will promote your interests rigorously throughout the process whether during the initial correspondence, any subsequent negotiations or mediation or in court proceedings.
The amount that your case will cost will depend on how the case is funded. There are various ways to fund litigation.
You may 1. pay privately, 2. enter into a contingency fee agreement (also known as a “no win no fee agreement”) or 3. your insurers may cover your claim. With all of these funding arrangements you are incurring costs, but the way that those costs are paid differs. There are other options such as legal aid which we do not presently offer and which has been significantly reduced in terms of its availability.
If you pay privately we will provide you with an estimate of the likely costs of the case and ask you to pay money on account of our fees throughout the case. You may be able to recover some or all of those costs as dealt with in the question below. You could enter into a contingency fee agreement (also known as a no win no fee agreement) with the firm. This type of arrangement involves you making no payment for our fees during the case. If you win the case then we would be paid our fees from the damages, and an agreed success fee. The success fee would be agreed before hand and would represent the risk to our firm of taking on the case on the basis that if we don’t win you don’t have to pay.
There are variations of CFA agreements where it is partly private paying and partly no win no fee which we can discuss with you. The level of costs that you will incur depends on the complexity of the case and whether the case proceeds to a trial or whether it settles beforehand. Some disputes settle after an initial letter or telephone call, whereas others proceed to trial.
It is preferable to resolve your dispute as soon as possible and at as little cost to you as possible. We would charge an hourly rate and would provide you with an estimate for the amount of time which we consider will be spent on your case. Each case differs and we would need to consider your specific case before providing you with an estimate of costs.