Stage 5 – Settlement

Going to court should always be a last resort.  It can be expensive, stressful, time-consuming and risky.

The alternatives to court are usually:

  • Flexible
  • Faster
  • Less stressful
  • Cost less

You can seek:

  • Payment over a debt
  • An agreement for something to be done
  • Get something fixed or replaced
  • An apology
  • An explanation
  • Correct a mistake
  • Compensation

Mercian Law can assist you with trying to reach a settlement.  This can be either:

  • Raising a complaint under an organisations complaints procedure, ombudsman or regulator
  • Negotiation
  • Mediation – where you reach a settlement with the help of an impartial Mediator
  • Arbitration – where the Arbitrator decides the binding settlement

If you don’t try to reach a settlement or try and narrow the points in dispute before issuing a claim through the court, the judge will take this into consideration when considering costs.  Either you will not get your costs back, or you may have to pay the other sides costs, even if your claim is successful.

Whether you have bought a claim or responding to a claim, you can make an offer to settle part, or all, of the claim at any time. Ideally, this will occur before the non-refundable hearing fee has to be paid.  The sooner you consider making an offer the better.

If you and the other side agree to mediate and the claim is under £10,000 you will be eligible to use the free small claims mediation service which is open to acceptance when completing the directions questionnaire.  This service could give you the opportunity to resolve your dispute without having to attend a court hearing, saving both time and money.

The small claims mediation service offers 1-hour mediation appointments with a trained HM Courts & Tribunal Service mediator.  Both sides have the chance to summarise to main points of the case and consider the other sides position.  The mediator will help you to consider the best solution and whether an agreement can be reached to settle the dispute.  The mediator is independent and will not make any judgments on your case, they will only assist in negotiating a settlement. 

The benefits of the service are:

  • It’s free
  • It’s quicker and less expensive than attending court
  • Less formal
  • All discussions are confidential and cannot be used against you, or be disclosed to the judge, should the claim proceed
  • Appointments are at your convenience
  • You are in control, no decision will be imposed upon you
  • If the case is settled but the terms are breached, you can still proceed with the claim

The requirements to use the service are:

  • The person participating has authority to negotiate a settlement
  • Approach the mediation in good faith with the aim of achieving a settlement
  • You need to be flexible and willing to listen and consider the other sides position
  • Be familiar with the dispute and be able to answer any queries raised

Mercian Law can register your interest to mediate and represent you at the telephone mediation and recommends you always accept the offer of free mediation.  Although mediation is a voluntary process, under the civil procedure rules both sides must make every effort to settle the claim. 

If the mediation is unsuccessful, the case proceeds as a defended claim and the hearing fee will become payable.  Both sides still must comply with any court directions while taking part in the mediation process. 

For claims over £10,000 Mercian Law usually suggests a provider from the civil mediation online directory.  The mediator’s fees are fixed, the amount depends on the length of the session required.

  • Which method of settlement you wish to proceed with
  • What are you seeking from the settlement
  • The parameters of any financial settlement (top and bottom line)
  • To be flexible
  • Be available on the day of mediation