Plain Guide to Litigation: Getting help
In many crofting cases, the issues are largely questions of fact and you may well be able to conduct the case successfully on your own. However, we think that, it will usually prove worthwhile to seek professional advice at some stage in most cases. A lawyer would be able to warn you of the risks as well as guiding you to any important issues. There are often practical issues, obvious to a professional, but not so clear to the DIY litigant, which can have a major bearing on the outcome in some cases. It is a well-known saying that a lawyer who acts for himself has a fool for a client. There is no doubt about the value of objective assessment. The risk of liability to pay the other side’s expenses is likely to outweigh the cost of having a lawyer yourself, at least for part of the case.
You can save money by limiting the lawyer’s work. You might simply ask for advice before you start. You might seek advice once the pleadings were complete and the other side’s case was known. You could let your lawyer deal with pleadings and do the hearing yourself. You could ask a lawyer to prepare a submission for you to present to the Court. A lawyer can advise you about settlement negotiations; how you should react to proposals from the other side; how you might go about making your own offer; what the consequences might be for expenses if settlement fails; etc. .
It is particularly important to consider taking advice at the appeal stage. Appeals are usually limited to points of law. A lawyer can advise you what precisely is meant by a point of law. It does have quite a wide meaning but it is not always easy to say which issues are questions of law and which are pure fact. This is an area where sound advice could help you avoid wasting a lot of money.
© 2011, Scottish Land Court