How Long Do Litigation Cases Really Take?

litigation cases

There are two things in life which we never seem to have enough of. Time and money.

It is therefore, vital you consider both of these things if you are involved in litigation cases. As we all know, legal proceedings can be costly and lengthy. Thankfully money-wise, there are a number of litigation financing options out there to help you out. But time, unfortunately, is something that cannot be bought, borrowed or sold.

It’s therefore, impossible to determine exactly how long a law suit will take from start to finish.

According to statistics, the average total length of time it takes for a civil case to be dealt with completely is 31 weeks for small claims hearings and 56 weeks for a trial.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Remember, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to legal proceedings. Each and every case is unique, so the amount of time it will take and how much funding for litigation is needed will be different every time.

Types of Civil litigation cases:

The first thing to consider is what type of litigation case it is. Depending on what area of law the proceeding is may impact the length of time, the number of obstacles and the amount of finance for litigation needed.

Below are the five main areas of Civil litigation:

Personal injury

Think of the ‘injury lawyers for you’ adverts you see on TV. This area of laws covers personal claims as a result of an accident, illness or injury experienced by an individual. For instance, experiencing whiplash in a car accident, having a fall at work or suffered a hair injury at the hands of a hairdresser.

Breach of contract

This is when someone breaks the agreed terms and conditions laid out in a contract agreed by both parties. Common breaches of contract include not being paid for a service, failure to carry out work agreed and not delivering goods on time.

Divorce and family law

As the name suggests, this area of law covers anything to do with family matters. Cases include annulment, divorce, parental custody, adoption and surrogacy.

Property disputes

Much like the TV programme The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door, property litigation disputes concern either a homeowner, a landlord or a tenant. These include things such as trespassing, property damage, noise nuisance and even the height of your garden hedge.

Landlord and tenant disputes

Unlike property disputes, this area of law is concerned with certain rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants in private rented property. For instance, a landlord may seek legal action over overdue rent.

Basic Process of Civil Proceedings:

Although the amount of time litigation cases take cannot always be guaranteed, there are a few basic steps most lawsuits go through:

  1. Filing of complaint
  2. Serving Defendant
  3. Scheduling Conference

*Alternative resolution or dispute may be decided at this point*

  1. Investigation                                                                                         
  2. Pre-trial motions
  3. Settlement/ Pre-trial conference
  4. Trial
  5. Judgement

Case Studies:


Check out these examples of litigation cases that have featured in the press, two of them prove just exactly how volatile timescales for lawsuits are:

1. It’s a Family Affair

A family court case involving a father and daughter which lasted for 13 years was believed to be the longest in the history of the family division at the High Court.

The father wanted direct contact to be resumed with his daughter after it broke down when he separated from her mother. The case started when the girl was 18 months old, and she was 14 years old when it ended. After 13 years of legal action, over 80 court appearances and a cost of £1 million to taxpayers, the case finally concluded in 2014.  As a result, the judge sided with the teenager who refused to see her father.

2. The Rise of the ‘Quickie Divorce’

Taking a record speed of 14 seconds, former X Factor judge Cheryl wins the title for the fastest divorce ever granted in Britain. The ex-Girls Aloud singer legally terminated her marriage from Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini back in October this year. The lightning speed case was aired at London’s Central Family Court and was over as soon as it had begun. It is the fastest quickie divorce to ever happen in the UK. Quickie divorces have skyrocketed in popularity over the years, persuade by the promise of a quicker, cheaper, and simpler way to cease a marriage.

3. Brexit Court Ruling

The UK’s decision to leave the EU back in June immensely divided the nation. Since then, endless stories of another issue and problem surrounding Brexit appear daily in the media.

The latest Brexit fiasco involved the Supreme Court deciding on whether the PM Theresa May is allowed to trigger Article 50 without a vote by MPs.

During the four-day appeal, submissions were giving from both sides about whether Ms May should keep her promise and be forced to trigger Article 50 in March next year. Article 50 is the formal start of the process for the UK to leave the European Union.

The Supreme Judges will return a verdict in early 2017.

If you have been involved in any litigation cases let us know how long they went on for? Do you feel the average length of time of time is 31 weeks?

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