Frequently asked questions
- What are court proceedings?
- Do I have to go to court?
- Can I avoid court proceedings?
- Why would a solicitor issue court proceedings?
- What is a limitation period?
- What happens when a solicitor issues proceedings?
- What is a ‘Statement of Truth’?
- What is a ‘Defence’?
- What if I’m on holiday during the trial date?
1. What are court proceedings?
It is the penultimate step in order to force a conclusion to your claim should no agreement come from the initial negotiation period. Court proceedings are first “issued” to court, and then “served” to the defendant. This is to let both the court and the defendant know that you will take the defendant to the court and have a judge decide on the verdict of the case and the compensation you may be entitled to.
Once proceedings have been issued, the court will set out the steps and dates that both sides need to take and have provided for the hearing of the trial.
2. Do I have to go to court?
Every case is different and not all cases will end up in court. We find that most cases will actually settle before reaching court. Should we issue for a court proceeding and your case eventually reaches the court, then yes, your attendance will be required.
3. Can I avoid court proceedings?
Court proceedings are not something that you should want to ‘avoid at all costs’. The defendant and/or their insurers will want to avoid paying anything for your claim, so they will likely try to deny liability or put you to proof, to prove your losses. If they do this, then proceedings are necessary.
Alternatively, court proceedings are necessary if the defendant simply refuses to make a reasonable offer in your case. However, with Scott Rees & Co acting on your behalf, you will be in the best position to secure a just settlement.
4. Why would a solicitor issue court proceedings?
We will always strive to settle your claim at an early stage. However, this may not always be possible due to external factors as already mentioned above.
In this situation, and because of the limitation period, it may be necessary for us to issue court proceedings against the third party on your behalf. It puts pressure on the other side and encourages both parties to exchange evidence so that settlement can be reached without requiring that a trial takes place, although this is sometimes inevitable.
We would only consider issuing court proceedings if we believe that this process is necessary to progress your claim.
5. What is a limitation period?
A limitation period is the maximum time allowed by statute to bring a claim to the attention of the courts after an event has occurred. An accident involving injury usually has a 3 year limitation period; this means that you have 3 years from the date the accident occurred to issue (start) court proceedings.
6. What happens when a solicitor issues proceedings?
There are 3 key documents involved: –
- The Claim Form – This sets out the parties involved in the proceedings i.e. the claimant(s) and the defendant(s);
- The Particulars of Claim – this details the accident circumstances, the allegations made by you against the defendant(s) and refers to any medical evidence you may be relying on; and
- The Schedule of Special Damages – this is a list of other items you wish to claim for aside from injury, i.e. physiotherapy fees, travel costs or lost earnings.
Depending on your claim and what you are claiming for, the above documents will require signing by either yourself or on your behalf by the solicitor acting as your legal advisor. Should you wish to sign them yourself, we will forward you the documents and it is important that you read them carefully before signing the ‘Statement of Truth’ on each.
7. What is a ‘Statement of Truth’?
A ‘Statement of Truth’ is the paragraph at the end of the above documents that requires you to confirm to the court that you believe the facts you have stated to be true. Therefore we cannot stress the importance that everything you are telling us is correct and true.
In certain cases, we may sign the documents on your behalf where we have your instructions to do so, and are aware of all the items that you wish to claim for. If we sign them, we are doing so on your behalf as your legal advisor.
The documents will then be lodged at court and served on your opponent. They will normally have up to 28 days to serve a ‘Defence’, which we will then review and provide you with a copy.
8. What is a ‘Defence’?
A ‘Defence’ is the defendant’s response to your claim. It is a document where they can either admit each of the allegations, or put you to proof to prove the allegation, or deny the allegation and provide their own account of the incident leading to your claim.
The aim of the Defence is so that both sides are aware of the issues and allegations raised.
Shortly after the Defence has been served, the court will ask the parties to set out what directions they want. The court will then send court directions (a timetable) for the progression of the case; setting out the date by which the parties must send to each other various evidence, and the trial date or a trial window for when the case will be heard.
9. What if I’m on holiday during the trial date?
The court will not, save for the most exceptional and rare circumstances, change the trial date once it has been set. The trial will usually be in about 7 – 9 months after the claim is “issued”.
Therefore it is highly recommended that you do not book or take any holidays during this time. If you have any holidays planned (or a period of unavailability) leading up to the court date, you are advised to let your solicitor know well in advance so that your solicitor can make certain arrangements, if required, to deal with your circumstances.
Please ensure that you are available and in the country during the period when the trial is likely to be heard.
This page was last updated on 11th July 2016. This is a disclaimer to say that although we do make an effort to ensure that information contained on this website is accurate and up-to-date, we would like to remind you that this information is subject to change without notice and that we can accept no liability for the accuracy and/or inaccuracy of the information contained on this website at any given time.