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Personal litigation

Most of us aim to go through life avoiding conflict as far as we reasonably can but this is not always possible. You may find yourself having to defend a complaint, or the behaviour of a person or organisation may leave you with no choice but to assert your interests and issue proceedings unless you get satisfaction.

The conduct of disputes with a view to securing a positive outcome is central to the expertise of the lawyers at Viberts. Even those whose work is traditionally non-contentious take care to evaluate the advice they give to make sure it would survive a critical review in court unscathed.

Litigation makes good drama and as a result is a widely misrepresented and misunderstood process. For example, continental court hearings often allow the judge to conduct an inquisition: he takes an active role, sometimes questioning the witnesses so as to get to the bottom of the dispute. A Jersey judge is less interventionist, he adjudicates upon the submissions made to him although he will pose questions to test them for their strengths and weaknesses. As a general rule, the Bailiff decides matters of law and the Jurats sitting with him decide matters of fact.

It should never be forgotten that the courts see themselves as an option of last resort. Great care is taken to encourage litigants to exhaust all other avenues such as negotiation, mediation and arbitration. For some areas (such as employment issues, discrimination claims and planning disputes) special tribunals or inspectorates operate using streamlined procedures and applying expert knowledge. All these procedures are referred to collectively as dispute resolution. Dispute resolution requires the client, assisted by his advisor, to master three separate issues. Firstly; identifying the material facts or evidence, whether documentary or in the form of witness statements. Secondly; making the appropriate procedural choices as a dispute progresses through the court system. Thirdly; knowing the applicable law, both as to what it is (what any relevant legislation and case law actually require) and as to what it should be (where the issue under consideration is one where the law needs refining or clarifying).

Because of this, dispute resolution in general and litigation in particular requires detailed and time-consuming preparation. This makes it expensive, without necessarily offering a guaranteed outcome. Almost all disputes should therefore be the subject of a continuing risk/reward review, comparing the cost implications of proceeding against the available alternatives.

Apart from these technical issues there are various human factors to consider also. Will a witness be reliable? Are there other parties who should be involved, whether invited in as allies or summoned to appear as the persons actually responsible for what has happened? Can the client be helped to address the process of giving evidence and in particular the prospect of a hostile cross examination? If a litigant is a business or organisation which member of it is best placed to represent it in court and show it has properly understood and performed its rights and duties?

It is with all these issues in mind that the litigation team at Viberts approaches the tactics and the strategy underlying advice it gives, both in and out of court, from the drafting of the first pleadings all the way to the courts of appeal. It can advise you on:

  • Disputes between private individuals
  • Commercial disagreements
  • Criminal work from advice at interview all the way to trial and any appeal thereafter
  • Claims over money due but not paid or defending inappropriate debt actions
  • Disputes between employer and employee
  • Injury arising from accidents, unsafe working conditions or medical error
  • Disputes over the enjoyment or use of land
  • Disputes between the citizen and the States of Jersey or any agency or body answerable to it

Contact our team of litigation lawyers today to find out how we can help you +44 (0) 1534 632255

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