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Commencing Litigation in the UK: A Step-by-Step Guide


Commencing litigation in the United Kingdom involves a structured process that ensures fairness and efficiency in resolving legal disputes. Whether you’re dealing with a civil matter, criminal case, or administrative challenge, understanding the key steps in initiating litigation is crucial. Here we will provide a comprehensive overview of how to commence litigation in the UK. The Team at AMH are here to help you with all your Litigation questions.

Evaluate the Dispute

Before initiating litigation, it’s essential to carefully evaluate the dispute. Consider whether legal action is the most appropriate course of action, weighing the costs, potential outcomes, and the likelihood of success. In some cases, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, such as mediation or arbitration, may be more suitable and cost-effective.

At AMH we advise our clients on merits of any claims from the outset, we also keep client apprised of our opinion on merits throughout the course of the litigation.

Pre-Action Protocol

In civil cases, parties are encouraged to follow pre-action protocols, which are specific procedures designed to encourage early settlement and avoid unnecessary litigation. Each type of case may have its own protocol, outlining steps such as providing detailed information about the claim, attempting negotiation, and considering ADR. The purpose of this stage is to provide your opponent with details of the claim you have against them.

Occasionally clients have already attempted this before they consult us. We would advise clients to instruct us for this stage so we can ensure the correct protocols have been followed and we can draft strongly worded correspondence to your opponent which may lead to resolving of any claim without necessitating commencement of costly proceedings.

Obtain Legal Advice

Consulting with a solicitor is crucial before commencing litigation. A solicitor can provide legal advice, assess the merits of your case, and guide you through the procedural requirements. Legal aid may be available for certain cases, or you may discuss alternative funding arrangements, such as conditional fee agreements (CFAs) or fixed-fee arrangements.

We at AMH pride ourselves with our Litigation experience and although we do not retain legal aid matters, our fees are at competitive rates and we would be happy to consider various fee arrangements.

Issuing Proceedings

To officially commence litigation, the claimant (the party initiating the case) must file a claim form at the appropriate court. The claim form includes details about the parties involved, the nature of the claim, and the remedy sought. It is accompanied by a fee, the amount of which depends on the value and complexity of the claim.

You can check what Court fees would be applicable at: Make a court claim for money: Court fees – GOV.UK (

At AMH we are experienced in drafting pleadings whether for simple of more complex matters. We are also affiliated with Counsels who can be on board from the onset any claims.

Service of Documents

After filing the claim form, it must be served on the defendant (the opposing party). Service can be done by various methods, such as personal delivery, post, or electronic means. The defendant is then given a specified time to respond to the claim by filing a defence.

At AMH we would ensure that claim forms are filed and served promptly and we keep clients apprised of timelines.


The next stage involves the exchange of formal documents known as pleadings. The claimant submits particulars of claim, outlining the facts and legal basis of the case, and the defendant responds with a defence, admitting or denying the allegations. Depending on the complexity of the matter the claimant’s pleadings can frequently be included within the claim form. At AMH we would advise you on how best to navigate through these initial stages.

Case Management

Once pleadings are complete, the court takes over the management of the case. Case management conferences may be held to streamline the process, set timelines for disclosure of evidence, witness statements, expert reports and address any procedural issues. The court aims to ensure that the case
proceeds efficiently and fairly. At AMH we would provide you with representation at Case Management hearings and navigate you through any case management directions the court gives.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Throughout the litigation process, parties may be encouraged to engage in ADR methods, such as mediation or settlement negotiations. ADR can provide a quicker and more cost-effective resolution, and courts often consider parties’ efforts to engage in ADR when making cost orders.
At AMH we would advice on when and where ADR may be a useful tool to ensure an optimal
settlement outcome.


If a resolution is not reached through negotiation or ADR, the case proceeds to trial. During the trial, both parties present their arguments, evidence, and witnesses before a judge. The judge then makes a decision based on the merits of the case.

At AMH we would provide you with representation at Trial and help you navigate smoothly through what can be a stressful and tiresome process.

Enforcement of Judgment

If the court rules in favour of the claimant, the judgment must be enforced. The court can issue various orders, such as payment orders or orders for the seizure of assets, to ensure that the judgment is carried out.

At AMH we can advise you on what options are available to you to enforce the judgment obtained.


Commencing litigation in the UK involves a carefully orchestrated series of steps designed to ensure fairness, efficiency, and access to justice. From evaluating the dispute to enforcing a judgment, each stage of the process plays a crucial role in resolving legal conflicts. Seeking legal advice, following preaction protocols, and considering alternative dispute resolution methods can contribute to a smoother and more effective litigation experience in the UK.

Need Help?

It is essential to consult a solicitor to understand the litigation process better. Contact us now for an honest appraisal of your matter. For further information about the subjects discussed in this article please contact our Litigation team at AMH.

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