Litigation, or dispute resolution, can be necessary for many situations, including for commercial, property and contract disputes. The primary method of dispute resolution is court litigation, although various methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) can also be used.
If court action is unavoidable, Miller Samuel Hill Brown will ensure you are represented by a litigation team with extensive experience assisting clients in tribunals, Sheriff Courts and the Court of Session.
The majority of court actions take place in the Sheriff Courts, which deal with less complex and lower value claims. More complicated and higher value cases (over £100,000) are heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. The court system is adversarial, and the claimant (also known as the pursuer) must prove their case on the balance of probabilities.
Prescription and limitation periods apply in slightly different ways to different types of claims. Generally, a person has between three and five years to bring a court action depending on the nature of the claim. For example, for a contract dispute, you must bring your claim within a five-year period, whereas personal injury claims must be brought within three years. If you are unsure about whether you still have a valid claim, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
The most common remedies in civil cases are a decree for payment or damages, or both. Specific performance (or implement), which compels a party to take a particular action, is also available as a primary remedy in Scotland.
There are a number of possible methods of enforcement that may be ordered by the courts in litigation cases:
Fees are not fixed by law. Legal Aid may be available and legal expense insurance may be included in an individual’s home insurance policy. Costs are at the court’s discretion, based on the length and expense of the litigation and the conduct of the parties.
The process of court reform in Scotland continues and 2018 should see the enactment of the Civil Litigation (Expenses and Group Proceedings) (Scotland) Bill, which aims to make civil justice more accessible and court costs more predictable.
Litigation and going to court is often unavoidable. It can, however, be resource consuming. ADR options include arbitration and mediation. ADR is an appropriate course of action where the parties wish their relationship to continue. Litigation is by its nature adversarial but by settling disputes by ADR, there is a good chance that parties can achieve a favourable outcome and the relationship can continue.
Mediation can be effective when parties are in deadlock with neither wishing to resort to the expense of the courts but where a settlement is in their best interests. Costs are usually split between the parties.
In arbitration, the neutral arbitrator decides on the admissibility and importance of the evidence and issues a binding decision. It is appropriate where the parties require a fast, efficient process.
Whichever side of a dispute you find yourself on, the Litigation Lawyers at Miller Samuel Hill Brown can advise on the options most likely to achieve the best outcome. Call us on 0141 221 1919 or fill in our online contact form and we will get back to you shortly.
The Scottish Law Commission has launched a consultation on possible reforms to Section 53 of the Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003.