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DIY Commercial Litigation – A False Economy?

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Paul Trincas, litigation specialist with law firm, Charles Lucas & Marshall, explains why it pays to use a lawyer in commercial disputes.

Paul Trincas

Paul Trincas

Many businesses are reluctant to instruct solicitors in commercial disputes because they are concerned about the financial implications. Increasingly businesses are resorting to DIY litigation which often costs them more in the long run. This is because people underestimate just how much work is involved running a civil action and how complicated matters can become.

Here are a few examples of the advantages of using a lawyer to represent you in disputes of a certain size:

Stating your Case: At the outset of any commercial litigation, each party will be required to state their case in pleadings. Quite often litigants in person struggle to set out their position clearly. This results from ignorance of the law and / or lack of expertise and experience in legal drafting. In many cases the judge will have already formed a view based on the paperwork alone before the trial has even begun. A defendant may have the best defence in the world, but if his statement of case goes on for pages, is poorly structured and fails to adequately explain why the claimant is wrong, he has already shot himself in the foot.

Procedural Matters: The rules that govern how the civil court system operates are set out in the Civil Procedures Rules. It follows that if a litigant in person is up against an opponent solicitor or barrister well versed in procedural matters he can easily become unstuck and feel intimidated. Cost penalties might result from failure to comply properly with court directions.

Objectivity: It is all too easy to become emotionally embroiled in a commercial dispute. Whether the dispute in question involves a debt, or a claim for damages, businesses of all sizes resent having to chase payment. Hard feelings can result from the breakdown of any business relationship, which can cloud judgement. A competent lawyer should be able to take an impartial view of prospects, determine the commercial reality of the situation and advise his client accordingly.

Technical Expertise: Whilst the Internet contains a wealth of information about the law, there is no substitute for a proper training and experience. Commercial litigation can and often does result from the most basic of disputes. However, the potential for complicated legal issues to arise out of what appear to be the simplest of circumstances should not be underestimated.

Getting the Best Result: One of the most challenging aspects of litigation is addressing the issue of remedy. The legal principles in a claim for damages (as opposed to a simple debt claim) need to be fully considered before calculating the likely value of any claim. Although the tendency for the uninitiated is to over-value claims (which will not impress the court), in some circumstances litigants will find themselves claiming a sum of money less than their proper entitlement.

Generally, solicitors are keen to promote to their clients the benefits of trying to settle. Doing so is preferable to bearing the litigation risks and expense of trial. If by seeking legal representation a dispute settles in the early stages of litigation costs might be kept to a manageable level.

For further information please contact Paul Trincas on 01635 521212 or


Written by Paul Trincas

December 3rd, 2014 at 11:53 am