Suing and the law


If you have been injured or suffered loss due to the actions of another individual, you may be able to sue. The law in the UK, in relation to civil wrongs, or tort law as it is known, provides a number of causes of action under which you can sue.

The law of civil wrongs also sets out various remedies which the court can order if your claim is successful, including monetary compensation (damages) and injunctions.

Suing for negligence

The most common tort under which people claim remedies under civil law is negligence. To sue for negligence, you must establish that:

  • The other person owed a duty of care to you
  • They failed to exercise that duty of care
  • The injury or loss to you resulted as a consequence

For example, if you are injured by another road user who was driving negligently, you may sue for negligence.

Suing for property issues

Nuisance is a common tort in which a person interferes with your use and enjoyment of your land. For example, if a neighbour’s factory is polluting your air and water, you may be able to sue for nuisance.

When someone interferes with your property, you may be able to sue under trespass or conversion. The tort of trespass occurs when a person unlawfully intrudes upon or interferes with another’s person or property. Conversion occurs when a person treats your property inconsistently with your ownership rights.

Suing for defamation

The tort of defamation occurs when a person publishes an untrue statement to a third party about another person which is damaging to that person’s reputation.

Suing for intentional torts

Intentional torts are any intentional acts in which it is reasonably foreseeable that it will cause harm to an individual, such as assault, battery, false imprisonment, and fraud.

If it sounds like your circumstances might bear out one of these claims, you may wish to try to negotiate with the person to pay you compensation, or you may sue. Law in the UK on these areas is complex, and you should seek legal advice before deciding to make a claim.

How does litigation work?

A civil suit proceeds in a similar manner in court as a criminal trial. Each side submits its claim, presents witnesses and submits evidence according to the rules of evidence and procedure, as presided over by the judge.

In a civil claim, the person bringing the suit (the plaintiff) has the burden of proving the case (burden of proof). The plaintiff must prove the case on the balance of probabilities (the standard of proof). At the end of the suit, the judge will give his or her decision and award remedies.

If you are considering legal action against an individual, you should speak to a solicitor before bringing a suit. Law in the UK on civil actions is complex and legal action can be costly. A solicitor can examine factors such as:

  • Whether the law is on your side
  • How much it will cost to bring the suit
  • Whether the case can be proven
  • How much money could be recovered

It is important to have an experienced professional carefully consider the circumstances of your case before investing time, resources and energy into it.

For more advice on suing and the law, see our information page on litigation.

Are you thinking about suing another party to recover some money or gain compensation? Contact Law can put you in touch with a specialist litigation solicitor who can assist you in filing a lawsuit. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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