Introduction to dispute resolution in the UK

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English law and English jurisdiction is often chosen as the governing law of contracts and the dispute resolution mechanism respectively, even when there is no English party, for a number of reasons.

(1) There is a strong culture of favouring out-of-court settlement, which, when combined with the ‘loser pays’ costs rules, ensures litigation is avoided whenever possible. (2) If a dispute does reach the courts then the rules governing disclosure and evidence create a litigation system trusted to provide a detailed analysis of a dispute and as near to the ‘right’ decision as possible. (3) Extensive case law means lawyers can advise clients with a greater degree of certainty on the strength of their claim or defence than might be the case elsewhere, which in turn results in parties often settling out of court.

There is no civil code in England; instead, English law is made up of Parliamentary legislation, which is then interpreted by the courts. A court cannot interpret the Parliamentary legislation in any way it wants, however; it is bound by the doctrine of precedent. This means a lower court must follow a decision on the same issue by a court of higher status. There are three main courts in England, which are listed below in increasing order of seniority…

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