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Suing: What You Need to Know as a Business
Where should I start if I want to sue someone?
If you have explored the other alternatives and concluded that going to court is your only option, it is time to initiate proceedings. Before doing anything, you should consult a lawyer, as they will help you to plan out your strategy – there are many ways to conduct a litigation process, and your approach will depend on your individual circumstances. Broadly, however, you should follow the initial steps outlined below:
- Send your opponent a letter of claim – This should set out why you are considering court action against them, and insist that you require compensation or a reasonable offer by a reasonable deadline, or you will sue. At this stage, you are not commencing a claim – just reminding your opponent that the threat of legal action is real. You should be aware that sending such a letter is not consequence-free; your opponent might have grievances against you too, and sending the letter might provoke them to issue a counterclaim against you.
As this letter will form a key part of any eventual case, you should consult a lawyer to figure out exactly what you should include.
- Instruct a solicitor – If there is no satisfactory response to your letter, now is the time to appoint a lawyer. Remember to choose wisely, and be aware that lawyers are very expensive, even in relatively minor cases.
- Be prepared to compromise – The majority of cases are settled before the parties set foot in court, and accepting a reasonable offer will mean you avoid the uncertainty of court proceedings. When considering an offer, assess whether it matches or exceeds what you could expect to win, and take into account the risk of losing. If the amount you win in court is less than a previous offer you have rejected, you have to pay some of the opponent’s costs.