Taking a matter to court is a lengthy and complex process. If you are considering taking legal action (litigation), make sure that you first speak to a lawyer. There are many other avenues of dispute resolution out there and, for many disputes, legal action should be viewed as a last resort. Here are 6 things you should consider before taking legal action:
Have You Considered Alternative Dispute Resolution?
Before you decide to take legal action, you should first consider Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). In ADR, an independent third party person helps to resolve a dispute through mediation, conciliation and arbitration (as opposed to judicial determinations like court-decisions or a tribunal). ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) is a cost effective and timely way to resolve a dispute – it is often employed as an attempt to salvage the relationship between conflicting parties without resorting to drastic measures. Find out more about ADR.
Do You Have the Time?
Taking a dispute to court – especially without the expertise of a litigation lawyer or litigator – can be a very time-consuming and stressful process. Court proceedings take time – in many cases, disputes aren’t resolved for months or even years. So, before you take legal action, make sure that you are prepared to persevere and consider whether you have the time and patience to see the process through.
Do you Know What You Want?
You should never take a dispute to court without a clear idea of what you want to get out of the proceedings. Compensation? Acknowledgement? Apology? Make sure that your reasoning is concrete, and don’t let yourself be guided by feelings of anger, injustice or retribution.
If you’re not sure what you want out of your court proceedings, make sure that you speak to a legal expert who can guide you through the process and discuss potential outcomes.
Do You Have a Cause of Action?
A ‘cause of action’ is the technical legal term for the set of facts that give rise to a claim enforceable in court – it is the legal theory that forms the basis of a lawsuit. Examples of cause of action include negligence, breach of contract, battery and false imprisonment.
Having a grievance or an annoyance isn’t enough to go to court – you need a valid cause of action and sufficient evidence to support your case. Often, it is difficult to determine whether a dispute should be taken to court without the expertise of a lawyer.
Will it Damage Your Reputation?
If you are taking legal action on behalf of a business, it is important to consider the extent to which this legal action will affect your reputation. A business reputation takes years to build – regardless of whether you win or lose a case, this reputation can be instantly destroyed if you receive bad publicity or ill-advisedly take legal action against one of your key clients or suppliers.
Do You Have a Lawyer?
Don’t take the risk of representing yourself in court. Legal action can be a complex and frustrating process – having an experienced lawyer at your side will give you the best chance of success.