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Case Update - George Herbert

Posted on: 01 October 2012

A lean compromise is better than a fat lawsuit.

George Herbert (1593-1632) British poet

In life, nobody can avoid disputes and in the majority of cases, people are usually able to make some kind of compromise in order to resolve their disputes. The real problem is when the parties feel that they are incapable of finding a resolution between themselves and that is when a solicitor is needed.

There are many types of disputes that pass through the doors of Silverdale solicitors, matrimonial, probate, tenancy, personal injury, professional misconduct, contractual and commercial disputes… the list is endless. In some cases, an agreement or compromise can be reached without the need for litigation but there are other cases where one or neither party is unwilling or unable to compromise and in that case there is no alternative but to issue legal proceedings.

Though litigation is sometimes necessary, it is an expensive and lengthy process causing a lot of stress and anxiety for the individuals concerned. Often, a success at trial may also not achieve the “justice” that is sought. In cases, where one party has little or no assets or receives public funding, even if one party is successful they may still be faced with problems with enforcement of a court order or a hefty legal bill (contrary to common belief, you are responsible for payment of your own legal costs irrespective of any court order).

A compromise may not be fair or just but sometimes it is the best result for all the parties concerned.

Silverdale Solicitors were recently instructed to deal with a partnership dispute. We acted for the Claimants. They had entered into a partnership with the Defendant to purchase a business. A partnership agreement was signed by both parties although the Claimants were not named in the Lease. After a period of time, the relationship turned sour and the Defendant offered to “buy out” the Claimants. A purchase price was agreed. Negotiations failed. The Defendant then sold the business to a third party for 60% of the purchase price previously agreed by the parties. It was suspected that this was a false transaction. The Claimants claimed for their share of the business (at its’ true value). The Defendant denied that the Claimants had a share of the business and asserted that the Claimants had never paid for their share of the business and that the partnership agreement was entered on the promise that the Claimants would make payment. The matter was complicated and delayed by a number of factors, and made difficult by the culture of the local community. Examples include witnesses unwilling to come forward, professional organisations unwilling to disclose information because of a personal involvement with a party to the proceedings and property and businesses changing hands and being registered under the names of family members.

By the time Silverdale Solicitors were instructed in April 2011, the matter had been ongoing for 4 years with proceedings being issued 12 months previously. The Claimants had incurred substantial costs including an adverse costs order. The Claimants had also suffered considerable stress and anxiety. The estimate of costs to trial would have exceeded £35,000.

The Claimants also became aware that the Defendant was in financial difficulties and there was a possibility that even if they succeeded at trial, the Defendant would file for bankruptcy in which case their victory would be a hollow one, given the legal costs of fighting the case. In the end, Silverdale Solicitors were instrumental in achieving a compromise that meant the Defendant would pay a sum of money that meant the Claimants were able to cover their legal costs in addition to some of their original investment. In addition, the never ending worry and stress the Claimants suffered was finally at an end.

The story is not what most people would class as complete success, but in the circumstances it was the best outcome from a very difficult set of circumstances. Had the matter proceeded to trial, not only would the Claimants face the risk of losing the case but also the very real possibility of successful winning the case but still being faced with a hefty legal bill and no prospects of successfully enforcing a Judgment for their compensation and costs.

For further information, please email Lay Chan-Rodger on lchan-rodger@silverdalelaw.co.uk or call her on 0161 740 0333