Frequently Asked Questions

Dispute Resolution FAQs

I instructed a solicitor to pursue a personal injury claim but they failed to issue the claim within the time limit. Is there anything I can do?

If a solicitor has failed to issue a claim within time, and subsequent efforts to submit a claim were rejected, you may have a professional negligence claim. The burden is on a claimant to prove, on a balance of probabilities, that the solicitor’s negligence has caused his loss. The claimant may recover damages based on the loss of the chance of making a gain. In such cases, the court trying the professional negligence action can usually only speculate about the outcome of the original proceedings. Thus the solicitor will be liable for the client’s loss of the chance of winning. The court will assess the prospects of success and the likely value of the claim.

This is a complex area so contact us today to discuss your potential claim.

I instructed a solicitor to pursue a personal injury claim, but feel that they settled the claim for less than it was worth. Can I pursue a claim against the solicitor?

When you instruct a solicitor to pursue a claim for damages you rely on the solicitor to advise you on what losses you can claim and what these losses are worth. If a solicitor has failed to include certain losses within your claim or incorrectly valued your claim causing you loss then you may be able to pursue a claim for Professional Negligence.

In order to pursue such a claim, we have to consider the solicitor’s file relating to the personal injury claim. We would need to assess what information and evidence they had available and whether the advice and valuation the solicitor gave you was within a range of what a reasonably competent solicitor would advise. If it was not then you may have grounds to pursue a claim against the firm of solicitors. If you suspect that you have been incorrectly advised or your claim was under-settled then contact us today to discuss your options.

I was successful in a claim against a builder who carried out work on my property. The builder failed to pay and my solicitor found out he has sold his assets and cannot be traced. Can I pursue a claim against my solicitor for the damages?

Unfortunately in some cases obtaining an order or settlement is only half the battle as it does not guarantee that you will receive a payment. With all litigation there is a risk that a defendant cannot or will not pay damages even if ordered to do so. In this case, we would have to consider the circumstances of the claim, the conduct of the parties to date, and what investigations had been carried out to establish what (if any) assets the builder had.

If it was anticipated that the builder may try to avoid making a payment, then it may have been possible to obtain some security (i.e. a charge over any property he owned) for the amount due to be paid to you. However, if he did not have any assets then this would not be possible. If your solicitor knew that the builder was likely to dispose of his assets to avoid payment, then he should have advised you of your options in order to preserve your position. Equally, when the builder failed to make payment consideration should have been given to what steps could be taken to enforce the order or agreement. These cases are not clear cut and we suggest you contact us so we can talk through your options with you.

My next door neighbour has erected a structure which is partly located on his land and partly on my driveway even though he has no right of way to access my land. What do I do?

You may need to apply to the Court for an injunction and to issue proceedings on the basis that your neighbour is trespassing and committing a nuisance on your landlord. You should seek legal advice if you are in any doubt.

An elderly relative asked me to move in with them to help look after them. I was promised a share in their property and I looked after them for 4 years. However when they died I was not included in their Will. How can I get my share of the Property?

Ideally any such arrangements should be registered on the property’s title entries held by HM Land Registry at the time they are made, though often this is not done.

In order for your claim to be successful you will have to prove that the promise was made to you and that you reasonably relied on that promise to your detriment.

This will often involve talking to other members of the family and those people that were close to the deceased about what they may have said about their property and you caring for them. If it can be established that a promise was made then consideration will have to be given to whether it was reasonable to rely on the promise as well as to your employment prospects (i.e. what opportunities you may have turned down or missed as a result of relying on the promise that you would receive a share of the property).

These situations are rarely clear cut and often involve a long history of complex facts and anyone in this situation should seek legal advice about their situation.

The leaseholder has breached the terms of their lease. As the landlord what can I do?

As the lease is a contractual agreement it would be possible for you to take legal action against the leaseholder in the county court. The potential options would be to seek an injunction, order for specific performance and/or damages. The ultimate sanction could be to seek forfeiture of the lease.

Can you help me with a small claim?

A small claim is one which is valued up to £10,000 and would be dealt under the County Court Small Claims track if the claim is defended. Regardless of whether the claimant or defendant is successful at the final hearing, the court will rarely order the losing party to pay the winning party’s solicitors’ costs apart from court fees. Hodge Jones & Allen does not therefore generally act for clients in small claims because we appreciate that the legal costs can become too much when weighed up against the likely benefit including the amount of compensation a winning party can get back from the losing party.

But we fully appreciate that the court system can be daunting and intimidating for ordinary members of the public. Added to that the court’s procedures and terminology can cause more confusion. For that reason, we are more than happy to provide simple initial advice in the early stages of the claim, which can be limited to helping you draft a claim form or a defence depending on whether you are claimant or defendant. We can also provide general advice regarding court procedures including what preparation you need to do for the final hearing.

How can I pay for my case?

Hodge Jones & Allen will always explore all possible ways of funding your case. There are examples of funding below and our fee earners will be able to explain these funding methods in greater detail at the initial meeting and, if appropriate, during the running of your case.

We check with clients whether they have the benefit of legal expenses insurance (also known as before-the-event insurance). This type of insurance is normally to be found on household or motor insurance policies but we would always advise you to check all your insurance policies and some premium bank accounts and credit cards can also provide it too. If you do have such cover then you should notify the insurance provider straight away.
We also carry out some legally aided litigation work subject to you passing all eligibility criteria set out by the Legal Aid Agency. But legal aid is very limited these days in all civil proceedings.

In other cases, if you cannot afford to progress your case we might be prepared to act on a conditional fee agreement basis (sometimes known as a “no win, no fee” agreement) but this would normally involve a percentage deduction from any compensation you receive. We may also be able to broker after-the-event insurance to provide cover against liability for the costs of the opposing party if your case is unsuccessful.

There are some types of cases that we handle, which you may be able to progress through a Third Party Funding arrangement. This type of arrangement is usually between a specialist funding company and more typically the claimant in a case. The third party funder agrees to pay some or all of your legal fees in exchange for a proportion of the damages that you recover from your opponent.

For privately paying clients we charge for work based on time spent on a case. At the outset of a case, you will be provided with details of the relevant lawyers’ charging rates as well as being provided with estimates of time and costs throughout the duration of your case for each specific stage of work.

When should I get advice from a dispute resolution lawyer?

If you are involved in any kind of legal dispute, we would always recommend that you get advice as soon as possible rather than let the dispute escalate or remain unresolved.

Once we have had an opportunity to meet with you to find out all the relevant facts about your case as well as consider all the key documents and correspondence, we will be able to assess whether you have a strong case or not.

If you have a case with good prospects of success we will help you advance your claim as economically as possible. But there are times when our advice may be that your case is not strong and we will endeavour to resolve the dispute as quickly and as cheaply as possible. Ultimately, we will try our best to achieve the optimum result for you given all the circumstances of your case and keep in mind ways of trying to settle the case so that legal costs are kept down and remain in proportion to the amount/issue in dispute.

You can be assured that your case will be allocated to one of our expert dispute resolution solicitors who will help you during the course of your case.

Do I need to instruct a solicitor to enforce a debt I am owed?

Not necessarily – if the claim is less than £10,000 and you issue court proceedings then you will recover very limited fixed costs. As a result it may not be worthwhile instructing a solicitor as costs may exceed the amount you are seeking.  However, if you want one off specific advice on how to complete a court form or the process then we may be able to assist. If the debt is more than £10,000 then you are likely to be awarded legal costs if the matter goes to court.

I have received a ‘statutory demand’, what should I do?

There are very strict deadlines to responding to a statutory demand so don’t delay in getting legal advice. If you do not respond/dispute the debt sought then the creditor can take steps to make you bankrupt or liquidate your company.

How do I issue a claim for a debt owed?

There is protocol that you should follow which will include for example sending a pre-action letter, before you issue a claim at court. Our solicitors can help advise you on the necessary steps and assist you with each of the steps along the way.

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