Litigation is the process of taking legal action.
Here, we set out some initial information for anyone involved in a dispute.
Disputes can be stressful. As civil litigators, we are referred clients by lawyers, other industry professionals, and the public in all manner of disputes - usually involving money. Clients often ask us two simple questions at the outset that have very complex answers:
What are my chances of success in litigating my dispute?
How much time and money is litigation going to cost?
Success in litigation.
The answer to the first question completely depends on your case. We often provide legal opinions to clients after an initial interview followed by subsequent research of the law and drafting formal advice. There is one matter that is applicable to every case - we cannot give guarantees or 100% assurances of success.
Litigation is a process that is a 'grey area', in that we cannot know for certain how a court or other adjudicating organisation will rule. This is known as litigation risk and is further heightened in New Zealand by adverse costs typically being awarded in court cases against a party who loses their case, which means the successful party has a scaled portion of their legal costs reimbursed.
However, the good news is that there are rules, principles, and legal precedent that courts and adjudicating organisations are bound to follow that can provide clear indications as to the prospects of success in most cases. We pride ourselves on practical and strategic advice to our clients that has a keen focus on our client's objectives to achieve the best outcome - whether that is courtroom litigation, alternative dispute resolution such as mediation, or simply advice that a dispute is not financially viable.
Time and Money
Civil litigation is usually expensive and, as professionals, we charge an hourly rate. The civil court process must be followed but which path your case takes depends on a number of factors - our clients' objectives, their opposition, third parties, and the court itself.
The following is some initial indication (not to be considered legal advice) of the process of filing a normal civil claim in court if initial correspondence and alternative dispute resolution has not been successful:
a. Filing a claim in the High Court or District Court, possibly including a summary judgment application that circumvents the other steps below and, if successful, judgment can be entered where there is no defence;
b. Reviewing any Statement of Defence - note a judgment by default can be entered if no defence is filed;
c. Case Management Conference - setting out interlocutory steps to trial, which can include: i. Discovery of documents; ii. Any other interlocutory step required (eg. judicial settlement conference, security for costs, interrogatories, further particulars etc);
d. Briefs of evidence - usually including preparation of an electronic case book;
e. Written submissions;
f. Attending Trial - can last for half a day up to several weeks, depending on the case;
g. Receiving and enforcing judgment - there can be a significant variance in time and cost of a judgment being paid, depending on whether the judgment debtor pays or not. If payment is not made, then the court has a number of enforcement options (such as asset sale or bankruptcy) that can be pursued. Unfortunately that is another factor for clients in assessing the time and cost of litigation.
At McKenna King, we work with our client and regularly breakdown the costs of each step in the civil litigation process. While acknowledging that litigation has inherent risk and uncertainty, we provide our clients with practical and strategic advice so our clients have clarity in assessing the time and cost of litigation.
Civil litigation is usually disputes about money and it encapsulates nearly all non-criminal disputes. We represent clients in court proceedings in most New Zealand courts from Tribunals and the District Court up to the highest court, the Supreme Court. We also advocate for our clients in all alternate disputes resolutions services such as mediation, arbitration, and negotiations.
Contract Enforcement and Debt Recovery
These disputes over commercial agreements or transactions can often arise in the course of business. We work with you to advise you of your contractual rights and provide practical advice.
We act for both employers and employees in personal grievances, redundancies, and a wide range of employment conduct issues.
Estate and Relationship Property
We advise and represent clients in the division of relationship property and various estate matters.
We have a unique specialty in equine law given that Scott McKenna and Fraser King have an active involvement with horses and the equine industry. Unlike other lawyers, we understand the bond with horses and that their interests are paramount. We provide leading advice and counsel consistent with the subtleties of the equine industry to our most important horse racing and sport horse organisations and businesses.
Horse sale and purchase transactions can be contentious at law, particularly when issues such as soundness, fitness for purpose, competition performance can all fluctuate depending on the horse, rider and people involved.
We provide a wide variety of contractual advice specifically and solely for the equine industry, including horse sale and purchase contracts, good and services contracts (such as breeding, training, and syndicate contracts), and employment contracts.
We provide equine industry-leading advice as to business and personal structures to achieve a viable and sustainable setup for you and your equine business.
Defending criminal charges is a serious matter that requires clear, practical and conscientious legal counsel from the outset of the court process. A personalised strategic approach offers understanding our client’s perspective and we are acutely aware that our role as counsel is to both support our clients and advocate strongly to ensure their case is heard in court. While most of our matters are supported by Legal Aid, we also act on instructions from private clients.
Jury trials and Judge-alone trials
We defend criminal prosecutions for a wide range of criminal charges, with many successful defences achieved by our litigators.
We have experience defending statutory compliance issues and transport service licence breaches.
We have acted in many successful applications for people who are disqualified from driving and will suffer hardship should they not be allowed to drive to employment.
Our expertise in this area of law differs from others because we take a 'globalised and holistic' approach to each immigration matter. Our value proposition is centred on high-quality advice and representation in your immigration matter without you having to incur exorbitant fees.
If you are looking to apply for a temporary or residence visa, we can advise you of your options and submit an application to Immigration New Zealand on your behalf. If you have been declined a Residence Visa, we also accept instructions for an appeal of your matter before the Immigration & Protection Tribunal.
Good Character Issues
A visa applicant is required to demonstrate they are of 'good character'. If you have been declined a visa on character grounds, we may be able to help you resolve this issue by submitting a character waiver to Immigration New Zealand.
If you have been served with a Deportation Liability Notice or Order, we can guide you through the appeal process in a timely manner. This can include liaising with Immigration New Zealand as well as representing you before the Immigration & Protection Tribunal against your deportation on humanitarian grounds.
Section 61 Requests
As a means of last resort, we accept instructions to submit a request to Immigration New Zealand for a visa as a special case under s 61 of the Immigration Act.
Whether for study, work, or to live in New Zealand, we understand that one's immigration journey can be complicated and often-times challenging. In our Immigration Law practice, we advise and act for clients through their immigration matters, including visa applications as well as deportation appeals.
There may also be circumstances where your current legal predicament intersects with or presents unique immigration consequences. For example, if you currently have criminal charges before the Court and are concerned of the flow-on impacts this might have to your visa, you will require careful consideration of options in a timely manner - this is where we come in.