For the last 18months I have been working on a case that has just reached its conclusion. Despite attempts to negotiate, and as mediation was not suitable, the court process was needed, leading us to a final hearing that started this week.
The nature of the dispute was such that there were numerous experts dealing with valuations of land, farming issues, assets, tax and businesses. The issues included what was "fair", how the court would treat inherited assets and the extent to which each parties needs would be met. The level of complexity required the court to fix a 5 day final court hearing to determine the final order.
My preference is to always reach an agreement for clients without the stress and cost court hearings incur them, but where this is not possible, time is well spent in preparing the evidence to support your case in anticipation of a judge reviewing this at a final hearing.
I had expected to be at court all week, and was prepared to present my client's case on this basis. In fact what happened was a negotiated settlement by day 2, which has avoiding the risk associated with litigation. In some cases the cost of pursuing a dispute to a final hearing is disproportionate, but even at this late stage for my client, the total legal costs incurred were significantly less than the cost of the settlement the other side were seeking. As a result my client has a fair negotiated settlement saving them many hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The family team at Freeths are always keen to provide cost proportionate options to help fair resolution be achieved, and in some situations that will include a court application.
Should you need any help or advice about any issues raised in this article, please do not hesitate to contact me; Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01865 781182.
The focus for the court will be achieving a fair settlement which depends on the individual circumstances of each case. The main piece of legislation in this area is the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 which sets out the facts to be considered in deciding what is fair