What is Property Litigation?

Feb 4, 2019 by

Property litigation is a field of law that covers disputes relating to property of any kind. If you have a dispute relating to a property, property litigation is the road you may have to go down.

Typically, property litigation involves settling disputes that arise between property owners and their tenants, but it also covers a vast range of other disputes that involve ownership of residential, commercial, industrial and even agricultural property. Furthermore, the umbrella of property litigation can extend to all the legal issues that a solicitor is required for related to buying, selling, leasing and ownership of property. For example, you’ll consult property litigation solicitors when drawing up a contract regarding the sale of a house, or you may need a solicitor if you’re a landlord and need to resolve a dispute between you and your tenants.

Who is property litigation for?

Property litigation can benefit both residential and commercial owners of property. Residential landlords and tenants, commercial retailers, developers, leaseholders, financial or educational institutions can all use property litigation. Ultimately, anyone who owns, rents or leases a property will need a property law solicitor or litigator at some point.

What can property solicitors and litigators do to help?

There are a number of ways in which a property solicitor or litigator can help in the event of a property dispute, whether that be through litigation or alternative methods. A solicitor or litigator will guide you through the process of approaching and resolving the dispute in a way that satisfies everyone and follows the letter of the law. This includes drafting letters, holding mediation meetings, chairing negotiations and more.

A dispute doesn’t need to be occurring for someone to consult a property solicitor, they may just need advice relating to a property matter. For example, a residential landlord who needs to understand the legal steps in evicting a tenant may ask for advice.

Conveyancing services are also offered by property solicitors, which is the process of legally transferring a property from seller to buyer. Checks and searches will need to be made to ensure the property is legally owned by the seller, as well as checking that the property isn’t involved in any prior disputes that may affect a buyer’s legal entitlements.

What’s the difference between property litigation and dispute resolution?

Confusion can arise from the terms ‘property litigation’ and ‘dispute resolution’ often being used interchangeably when, in fact, the two terms refer to two different processes within the practice of law. When you start the process of property litigation, you are generally going down the route of resolving any issues within the court system. On the other side, dispute resolution pertains to using alternative methods that don’t involve the use of the court system.

It’s important to understand the differences in both processes, as property litigation can be a time-consuming, stressful and much more expensive process than using an alternative method. For businesses, avoiding property litigation and going to court can avoid the possibility of it publicly harming a business’s reputation.

If dispute resolution methods fail, the two parties will proceed to litigation through the courts. This will involve three steps. Firstly, there is a pre-trial in which a claim form is submitted with basic information about the case, as well as a ‘particulars of claim’ form that includes additional factual and legal information regarding the case.

The trial phase proceeds with each party stating their case and providing witnesses and/or evidence to back up their case. If a client requires representation in court, a litigator will argue on behalf of the claimant or defendant.

Finally, the post-trial phase may also require a litigator as a court does not enforce any judgement that it provides. Claimants who win their case sometimes require additional advice to ensure that the judgement is enforced and respected by the defendant. Finally, a litigator may also be required if an appeal is lodged by a losing claimant or defendant.

What are the alternatives to property litigation?

Alternative methods to litigation involve arbitration, mediation or negotiation.

Arbitration involves using a professional arbitrator, who has the power to impose a binding decision that both parties must abide by. It’s similar to court proceedings but ensures the details of the dispute remain private.

Mediation uses a trained mediator that chairs negotiations between both parties. While agreements reached are not binding, the mediator will help both parties come to an agreement. However, due to any agreements not being legally binding, there is the possibility that this method will not resolve the dispute.

Negotiation is the least formal of the three primary alternative methods, as it simply involves both parties negotiating before any legal processes begin. The negotiations may not always directly involve the two parties, instead being carried out by their solicitors on their behalf. Again, while this method is not legally binding, it is helpful for both parties to explain and clarify their positions.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.