Posted on the 9th December 2014

It’s a cliché, but it’s true: litigation can be a minefield if you’re unfamiliar with the processes involved.

If you’re beginning to litigate, the legal system can often seem complex and alien, but with a little knowledge it really isn’t that difficult to get your head around.

Part of making the process simpler is forming a coherent litigation strategy at the outset, so that your litigation doesn’t impact negatively upon your business. After all, your litigation can be a positive asset to your business, if done right.

To make your first steps into litigation easier, let’s go through some of the key elements you need to consider.

1. Assemble your internal team

While you’ll obviously need legal professionals, you will also need to prepare other internal team members to help you with proceedings.

Throughout the process, your legal team will need access to a senior decision maker. Key decisions will often have to be made quickly and authoritatively, so it’s vital that the appropriate contact is named and that your legal team can access him/her. Due to the nature of litigation such decisions are often needed at inconvenient times, so your contact will need to be easily accessible.

It’s becoming increasingly common for evidence to be submitted to the court digitally, so your business’s IT team will need to have rock-solid data-handling procedures in place. They will be heavily involved in preserving any documents that might be important to your case and in helping scope and oversee e-disclosure.

Likewise, your HR department will be involved with identifying employees’ roles in a dispute and liaising with them should any be called to give evidence.

2. Managing your case

It can be easy to let the litigation process take over, but continuing the smooth running of your business must remain your priority. Indeed, our research has shown that 14 percent of SME owners haven’t pursued a commercial claim because it would take up too much time.

There are, however, a few steps you can take beforehand which will reduce the impact upon your time.

  • Plan your litigation strategy carefully with your team – failing to do this might lead to missing out on claiming for wasted management costs. To make such a claim, you will need to establish that your opponent’s breach was disruptive enough to justify the time spent away from usual business activities by management and staff.
  • Keep detailed records of the time spent by yourself and your employees on matters relating to your case, including precisely what you have done in this time. This will help you clearly present the exact costs of the disruption to your business.
  • Assign appropriate members of staff to each element of the case, and clearly write out their roles and responsibilities. As the time you need to dedicate to your case fluctuates, setting out responsibilities in advance will be an invaluable time-saver.

3. Funding your litigation

There are now far more options for funding your litigation than the traditional pay-per-hour model. Before you begin your case, weigh up the risk you’re willing to take and the money you’re able to pay towards fees, and make sure you have a thorough understanding of the choices available to you. As we’ve shown in our commercial litigation case study, the amount of money your business risks can be much lower than you think.

In fact, your claim is a positive business asset rather than a burden. If it’s a good claim, it can attract third-party funders who will shoulder the risk for a share of the damages. Your other options include after-the-event (ATE) insurance, contingency fees and a mixture of funding models.

Want to know more about your litigation funding options? Get in touch with us today.