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No April fool for small claims says leading dispute specialist
Article date: 25/03/2013
It's no April Fools' joke - from 1st April 2013, the whole civil litigation landscape will forever change, warns one of the Midlands' leading dispute resolution lawyers.
Julia Lowe, who heads up Higgs & Sons' expanding dispute resolution team, says that the first change will be a rise of the small claims limit from £5,000 to £10,000.
"If you are owed money between these values that you want to sue for, and recover your legal costs, you have to move quickly," says Julia.
"If, after 1st April, you haven't issued your claim, you will not be able to recover your legal costs and will be stuck with fixed court fees.
"Worse still, the Government has announced an intention to increase the small claims limit to £15,000 in due course, although this is not likely to happen within the next couple of years."
Julia is urging businesses wishing to recover their costs to consider issuing proceedings immediately before it is too late.
In addition to an increase in the small claims limit, is the introduction of costs budgeting in cases worth £25,000 or more.
Julia explains: "These cases will require a solicitor, on behalf of their clients, to set out the likely costs of litigation at every stage of the procedure, showing the potential overall spend.
"This is a major step change in how cases are dealt with by the courts. Litigation will need to be approached like a business project. Judges will be in overall control of the costs of litigation at an early stage."
"As part of our preparation work we have made innovative software changes that will assist us, and therefore our clients, in the budgeting process."
1st April 2013 the definition of proportionality in cases will also change, with the courts looking at factors such as the sums in issue in the proceedings; the complexity of the litigation; any additional work generated by the conduct of the paying party; and any wider factors involved in the proceedings, such as reputation or public importance.
Julia says: "The whole landscape for dispute resolution is changing. Businesses across the region need to be prepared and ensure they have the very best advice and for some, it may mean acting very quickly."
Higgs & Sons works from two offices in the Black Country - Waterfront Business Park in Brierley Hill and Kingswinford. The firm employs over 200 people, which includes 100 specialist lawyers.
To find out how Julia and her team can support you call 0845 111 5050.