Our previous Litigation Advice blog posts have addressed the different stages of making a Court claim – Pre-action protocols, issuing a claim, and the potential Tracks of courtroom proceedings. For this entry, we’re looking at an alternative approach to the standard courtroom proceedings that may be advisable depending on the strength of the claimant and defendant’s arguments.
Where a claim has been issued, it is possible for either party to apply to the Court at any time for early determination of the case – without the matter needing to proceed to a full-blown Trial – where the circumstances permit it.
A party to a case can make an application for Summary Judgment. This is where the Court will consider the case (or a single part of it) without the need for the matter to proceed to a Trial.
The advantage in making an application is it should bring matters to a head early, and at a short hearing, which can reduce legal costs involved. The disadvantages are that it can risk causing delay to the proceedings (as the main claim will essentially be paused until the outcome of the application is determined) and that an unsuccessful applicant may face a costs Order at the end of a matter.
Applications for Summary Judgment can be made where there appear to be no reasonable chances of success, and where there is no other reason that the matter should proceed to a full trial. Such an application can be made by either Claimants or Defendants – usually where either the merits claim or the Defence are particularly absurd.
In cases where either party has a claim or a Defence which is wholly inadequate, it is worth remembering that the Court does have the power to Strike Out either the claim or the Defence, either by its own motion or on application from one of the parties to the claim.
The circumstances where a Strike Out may be appropriate are when the claim or Defence clearly have no reasonable prospects of success (for example, if there is no legal basis for the claim or the Defence) or where the claim is an abuse of process.
Making an application to Strike Out should be given careful consideration – the Court has the power to Strike Out the claim or the Defence, but it will usually reluctant to do so as it considers a Strike Out as a last resort. Additionally, any interim application in the proceedings is likely to result in a costs Order being made against the unsuccessful party in a contested application – even in claims where costs would not normally be awarded.
Whilst applications to bring the claim to an early end can be extremely useful and may save costs and time, given the potential costs consequences of such applications, and the Court’s usual reluctance to allow these to proceed, it is advisable to seek professional legal advice in relation to such applications for early determination of matters before making them.
For more expert legal advice, Astle Paterson are on your side. Our team of expert Litigation Lawyers are on hand to help you resolve your issues as quickly as possible. Read more about our Litigation services, or contact our Litigation department directly.
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