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Online litigation: a false economy?

Sometimes 'do it yourself' litigation can play right into the hands of solicitors.

The Commercial Litigation team at JMW was recently instructed by a company which had two claims made against it via Money Claim Online (MCOL). Initially, the claims appeared to be straight forward.  However, after speaking to the client and examining the legal documents, the team quickly discovered that the claims made against our client were woefully inadequate.   

The first issue identified by JMW was that the claims had actually been made against the wrong company. Secondly, the two claims had each arisen from the same contractual dispute, and should have been brought under a single claim.  Thirdly, the claims did not make it clear what outcome the claimant wanted. In the initial papers it appeared the claims were solely for money. However, subsequently the claimant stated that they wanted return of property provided under contract.  

Based upon these shortcomings, JMW applied to have both claims struck out. Additionally, we asked the court to order that the other side pay our clients' costs. The judge agreed and made a cost order in favour of our client. The judge stated that a lack of legal knowledge can not be used as a shield if a party has acted unreasonably in entering into litigation.

This case demonstrates that while online litigation services can seem to save money by initially minimising costs, this may actually end up proving to be a false economy if the proceedings are not carried out correctly. Therefore, businesses must be aware of the potential consequences of issuing proceedings without having first sought professional legal advice.

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