Settling or finishing your case early

Yes, there are various techniques under the Civil Procedure Rules for seeking this, such as strike out, summary judgment and default judgment. However, a relatively high threshold must be met by the applicant.

The English courts have the power to stay proceedings for, or order parties to engage in, a non court-based dispute resolution process, including mediation. That does not mean that that power will be exercised in all cases, but the court won’t refuse to order e.g. mediation just because one or both parties don’t want it. If an order is made, though, the parties can’t be forced to settle (although they might, exceptionally, face a costs sanction if they act unreasonably at the mediation) – and so their right to have their dispute settled by litigation (or arbitration) remains.

Yes, where proceedings are taking place in England, English law generally prevents statements and admissions made during settlement discussions being admissible as evidence either in relation to the dispute between the parties or on the question of costs at the end of the case. There are a few exceptions to this, for example, where there has been “unambiguous impropriety” during the discussions, but this is a very difficult issue to prove.

Parties can make an offer which is “without prejudice save as to costs” (so the court can be shown the offer when it comes deciding what costs order to make). However, it is usually better to make a “Part 36 offer” because, if it turns out that that offer was better than the result achieved by the offeree at trial, enhanced costs benefits for the winning party will apply (subject to the court’s discretion on this). Care needs to be taken, though, to ensure that the Part 36 offer is valid.

Yes. Generally, a claimant will not need the permission of the court or its opponent to do this. The general rule is that the claimant will have to pay its opponent’s costs if it discontinues its claim.

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