What are the different stages in a civil proceedings?

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The stages within a civil proceedings depends on the complexity of the case and the applications the parties submit throughout the proceedings. Generally there are five different stages to a civil proceedings. These are Pre-Action Conduct and Protocol, issuing the claim and exchanging statements of case, exchanging evidence, trial and appeal and enforcement.

Pre-Action Conduct and Protocol

At the Pre-Action Conduct and Protocol stage, the parties will be expected to resolve their dispute outside of court. The person who will be making the claim, referred to as the Claimant, should send a detailed letter before claim to the other party, referred to as the Defendant, setting out the details of their claim. The Defendant  should write a detailed response to the claims made by the Claimant either admitting or denying to the claims. Within the letters, the parties could invite the other party to resolve the dispute using alternative dispute resolution. The parties will be expected to exchange documents and provide clarifications in order to resolve the dispute. 

The parties will also be expected to consider whether alternative dispute resolutions could be used to resolve the dispute outside of court. The parties must give alternative dispute resolution a proper consideration before commencing proceedings at court. If the parties are not able to demonstrate they have given alternative dispute resolution a proper consideration, the court can stay the proceedings and require the parties to attempt to resolve the dispute through alternative dispute resolution. 

Issuing the claim and exchanging statements of case

Once the parties have completed the Pre-Action Conduct and Protocol, the Claimant can make a claim at the court. The Claimant should file their Claim Form and their Particulars of Claim at court to commence the proceedings. The court will issue the claim. Either the court or the Claimant can serve the Claim Form on the Defendant. Once the Defendant is served with the Particulars of Claim, the Defendant should file their response. The response could either be admitting, defending or counterclaiming against the claims made within the Particulars of Claim. The Defendant can initially file an Acknowledgement of Service within 14 days after they are served with the Particulars of Claim and then file their Admission, Defence or Counterclaim 14 days after they file their Acknowledgement of Service. Once the Admission, Defence or Counterclaim has been filed and issued at court, the case will be allocated to the appropriate track depending on the amount claimed and the complexity. 

Exchanging evidence

Once the case has been allocated, the court will provide directions to the parties. If the claim is allocated to the multi-track, a case management conference will take place in which the court will provide tailored directions regarding disclosure, exchanging witness statements and the trial. At this stage, the parties will carry out disclosure of documents that are relevant to the case and exchange witness statements. The rules on disclosure and witness statement will differ depending on which track the case has been allocated to. 

Trial

The court will notify the parties of a date for the trial and estimate the length of time the trial will require. At the trial, the court will hear the submissions made by the parties. If witnesses attend the hearing, the court will also hear submissions from the witnesses. The legal representative of the other party and the court will be able to cross examine the witnesses. Any experts the parties wish to rely on can also provide expert evidence at court. The legal representatives of the parties will make their closing submissions. The court will make its judgment and judgment on costs either straight after the trial or at a later date. 

Appeal and Enforcement

Once the court has made a judgment, the parties can either comply with the judgment or appeal against the judgment. If the Defendant receives an unfavourable judgment, they will need to comply with the judgment within 14 days or within a date specified within the judgment. If the Claimant receives an unfavourable judgment and is ordered to pay the costs of the Defendant, the Claimant must pay the Defendant within 14 days or within a date specified within the judgment. Either party can appeal at a higher court than the court that made the judgment to have the judgment dismissed. 

If the party who received the unfavourable decision does not comply with the judgment, the other party can enforce the judgment by applying to the court to issue a warrant of control, charging order, third party debt order or attachment of earnings order. 

How Legal Utopia can help you

You and the other party can use Legal Utopia to become informed on the different stages to civil proceedings. Legal Utopia app provides detailed information on the different tracks and the applicable timescales. The app will inform you on various aspects of court proceedings and civil procedure rules.

Using Legal Utopia, you can have more insight into the court processes and your obligations as either the Claimant or the Defendant. 

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