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 How Do I Apply for a Summary Judgment for My Commercial Dispute?

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You may experience a commercial dispute in the course of operating your business. Generally, you should aim to resolve your conflict as soon as possible, only using litigation as a last resort. However, in the case court proceedings do occur, they can be lenghty and costly. As such, you may consider applying for a summary judgment. This article will explain the summary judgment procedure and how you can apply for a summary judgment. 

What is a Summary Judgment? 

If you plan to engage in or are party to court litigation, a summary judgment may be a method of ending the commercial dispute earlier. This means you would be able to avoid full court proceedings, including a court trial. A summary judgment is a type of court procedure that allows you to dispose of either all or part of a court case. If you wish to apply for a summary judgment, the burden of proof is on you. In this case, it means that you must prove an absence of a: 

  • compelling need to have a trial, and 
  • real likelihood of success for the claim, issue or defence to the claim.

How Do I Apply for a Summary Judgment?

In a commercial dispute, you may be either the claimant who made the original claim or the defendant defending yourself against it. In any case, it is possible to apply for a summary judgment. If you are a claimant, you can make an application for a summary judgment once the other party has either acknowledged the original claim or filed a defence. This is to allow them an opportunity to participate in the case and potentially challenge the court’s authority, if appropriate. On the other hand, as a defendant, you can make an application for summary judgment at any stage of the case. Usually, however, the defendant would wait to do so during the first Case Management Conference (CMC). Regardless of whether you are the defendant or claimant, it is best to apply as soon as possible and be ready to act fast.

An application should only be made for relatively straightforward matters. In making a summary judgment, the court will not conduct a ‘mini-trial’. This means that if your matter is too complex or involves complicated legal issues, the court may not award judgment.

1. Written Evidence

When you apply for a summary judgment, you need to include written evidence. This is to prove that the other party has no real chance of success in the case and that there is no compelling reason for the trial to go ahead. This written evidence will usually be a witness statement written by you. Usually, you will also attach a draft order detailing the order you wish the court ideally made.

2. Issue Application

The next stage is to issue the application in court. You must pay the relevant court fee, and a hearing date will be set. The application will then need to be served on the other party.  The other party will be able to respond to the application and serve their evidence in response. 

3. Lodge Further Evidence

If the other party puts in a response to your application, you can also respond to this with further evidence. You and the other party will then need to agree on a bundle of documents to be provided to the court. Following this on the day before your hearing, both parties must provide a skeleton argument. This is a summary of the argument you rely on. If you are looking to recover legal costs incurred during the application, you should also prepare a schedule of costs. This sets out the legal fees you have incurred and wish to recoup.  

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Key Takeaways

In a commercial dispute, you may be litigating as either the original claimant or the defendant arguing against the claim. In either case, you may wish to apply for a summary judgment to avoid lengthy and costly court proceedings. In applying, you must prove that there is no:

  • realistic chance for the other party to succeed; and
  • compelling reason for a full court trial. 

The application process begins with supplying written evidence before the other party responds with their own evidence. You can then reply with further evidence if you wish. After this, both parties provide a skeleton argument and statement of any legal costs. Importantly, you must act promptly when making an application for summary judgment. 

If you require assistance applying for a summary judgment for your commercial dispute, LegalVision’s experienced disputes lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0808 196 8584 or visit our membership page.

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Clare Farmer

Clare Farmer

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