Litigation is a word used to describe disputes that end up in Court.
At Rockliffs we have vast experience in most areas of Civil and Commercial litigation. We represent all types of clients, from all different walks of life, from sophisticated wealthy clients to pensioners, business owners, doctors, solicitors, accountants, farmers, construction workers, and so on. We represent clients in many different types of disputes ranging from simple and small debt recovery disputes in the Local Court, to large-scale and complex, multimillion-dollar disputes in the Supreme Court of NSW.
Let our experience be your guide!
What to expect in legal proceedings?
Legal proceedings are difficult on most clients – it can often involve complex legal issues and arguments; it can be emotionally draining, cause financial strain, take a toll on peoples’ personal lives and relationships and require a lot of personal time and effort.
Having a solicitor to guide you and navigate the legal side of your case will take some of the burden off you with a view to working towards the best outcome for you. At Rockliffs we listen to our clients’ needs and concerns and attempt to address those as best we can. We adopt a client-focused approach and also aim to deal with your concerns and respond to emails and calls as soon as possible.
Common steps prior to litigation
The steps that are taken before commencing legal proceedings depend on a number of factors. These include the nature and complexity of the case, the amount or ‘quantum’ in dispute, the client’s needs including their financial circumstances and the urgency of the matter.
Briefly, some of the steps you could expect before commencing litigation:
1. We set up an initial conference with one of our experienced litigation lawyers during which we will take your instructions and ask questions which would assist us in tailoring our specific advice to your facts.
2. We normally request that you prepare a statement so that we know what your story is and what your case is about. It is not the final statement, but simply a draft that we will use, and if prepared by you, will assist in reducing your legal costs.
3. We will then review your statement and any other documentary evidence that you have provided to us.
4. After reviewing the evidence available, we then determine what causes of action you may have, in other words, what claims you may be able to bring against other parties, or if you have had legal proceedings commenced against you, we will determine what Defences you may have. Additionally, if you are commencing a claim, we will advise you on which Court to commence the legal action.
5. If necessary, we will brief a Barrister to give an advice on certain questions of law, evidence or procedure. Some examples of when this is necessary or appropriate include complex or technical cases, cases where the outcome or cost is likely to be significant, a matter where a substantial sum or property is in dispute, or where specialist advice is beneficial or necessary.
6. If appropriate, we may contact the other side or their legal representative, send a letter of demand and invite the parties to have an informal conference to discuss and attempt to resolve the dispute on a commercial basis.
7. If that fails, we will then draft the originating process, being a Statement of Claim or Summons, depending on which is appropriate for the case in question.
Common steps in litigation
In litigation, the steps that we take are often determined by the nature and complexity of the claim, the amount in dispute and the approach taken by the other side. However, below are some of the common steps that you can experience in litigation:
1. Commence Proceedings – by Statement of Claim or Summons – this document sets out your case, the legal claims you are bringing and the remedies or relief you are seeking from the other party.
2. File a Defence in Court – the other party is required to file a defence or response to your claim. If you are the defendant, in the NSW jurisdiction you will need to put on a defence within 28 days of being served with the Statement of Claim by the other party. If you do not, the plaintiff may proceed to file default judgment without giving notice to you.
3. Cross claims – in some cases, the defendant may bring a cross-claim against the plaintiff, or a fellow defendant or a third party. If a cross-claim is made, you would normally then file a defence to the cross-claim.
4. Each party to file their evidence – plaintiff files their evidence in support of their claim and then the defendant files their evidence in response. Sometimes there is also a need for evidence in reply, or expert evidence on a particular issue;
5. Discovery – sometimes it is necessary to seek documents from the opposing party, if the documents have not already been provided in evidence. This process is called ‘discovery’. In NSW discovery is not an automatic right and if a party wishes for another party to the proceedings to disclose their documents, the party seeking access needs to make an application to the Court setting out the documents they seek and why they are seeking the documents be produced (that is, why are the documents relevant or likely to be relevant to their case);
6. Filing of expert evidence, if appropriate in the case. In many cases, experts are used to give an opinion on matters in which they are qualified to provide an expert opinion. For example, as a Doctor who is experienced and specialised in heart surgery, giving his opinion on whether a heart surgery procedure was undertaken with due care and skill.
7. Participate in Alternative Dispute Resolution procedures, such as Mediation, Conciliation, or other informal settlement negotiations prior to the hearing.
8. Preparing the matter for a Hearing, if the matter is not settled.
Get in touch with the highly experienced Sydney litigation lawyers at Rockliffs Lawyers if you are thinking of going to Court.