Litigation is a topic frequently covered in the media, but what is litigation. From the mica scandal where homeowners claim defective blocks are causing their homes to crumble, to the case of school teacher Enoch Burke who refused to address a transitioning student by their preferred name and pronoun, most people in Ireland would have heard about a dispute between two or more parties that has ended up in court.
What is Litigation?
In simple terms, litigation is a legal process used to resolve disputes. It usually involves taking legal action in court, but can also include alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration. Court action is usually taken when all other methods of negotiation have been exhausted.
Litigation can be a complex and daunting prospect and can be highly emotional. It can also be a complex and time-consuming process and may not always be the best option for resolving a dispute. However, in some cases, it may be the only way to seek justice and protect your rights.
Litigation can be used to resolve a wide variety of disputes, including personal injury claims, breach of contract disputes, boundary disagreements, family law matters, professional negligence claims and defamation. Following are some examples of the types of disputes that can be resolved through litigation.
In Ireland, a judicial review is a process where a court reviews whether a decision or action taken by a public body or official is in alignment with the law. For example, if a person or group believe a planning decision made by a local authority to be unlawful or unfair, they could bring a legal challenge through a judicial review. In this case, litigation would be used to challenge the decision and request a review of the local authority’s decision-making process. If the court finds the decision-making process was not carried out in accordance with the law, they can order the local authority in this case to take reverse their decision or make appropriate, lawful changes to their course of action. This process helps to ensure that public authorities and officials act within the law and treat people fairly.
The dispute over the development of a bio gas plant in south County Galway provides a practical example of when a person or group might seek a judicial review. In January 2023, media reports covered the Gort Bio Gas Concern Group’s announcement of plans to seek a judicial review of An Bord Pleanála’s decision to approve a bio gas plant in the town, overturning two previous rejections from the Galway County Council. The Gort Bio Gas Concern Group believes the plant will have a negative impact on livelihoods, the local economy, tourism, the environment and people’s health and hopes a judicial review of An Bord Pleanála’s decision-making process will find in their favour, overturning the decision to grant planning permission and ultimately preventing the development of the plant in their town.
Another example where litigation is used to settle disputes is when family members or beneficiaries of an estate do not agree with the terms of a will. There are a number of reasons why a will might be contested, including the validity of a will and whether a spouse or child has been properly provided for in accordance with the law. This is known as contentious probate.
Undue Influence is another key reason people opt to challenge a will. Undue Influence describes a situation where someone manipulates or pressures a testator (the person making a will) into making decisions about their will that benefit the person influencing them. An example of Undue Influence is of an adult child that places pressure on their elderly parent to change their will and leave a larger share of the estate to them, to the detriment of their siblings and other family members. This is particularly relevant where the elderly parent is vulnerable or reliant on their adult child to some extent, and may feel unable to resist the pressure placed on them by their adult child.
If you are concerned about the terms of a loved one’s will and believe they may have been subject to Undue Influence when making their will, please get in touch with a member of our wills and probate team who can provide you with advice about your situation and what to do next.
Litigation is also an option when disputes arise over the performance of a product. Typically, a product is considered defective if it does not comply with the relevant safety standards or regulations that apply to the product in the country where it was sold.
Under Irish law, a person who is injured or has their property damaged as a result of a defective product may be able to make a claim for compensation. To be successful in their claim, they must prove the product was defective and is what caused their injury or damage to their property.
There have been several cases brought against the manufacturers and suppliers of defective concrete blocks in Ireland. Known as the “mica scandal” in media reports, homeowners claim the concrete blocks contained excessive levels of pyrite which caused significant structural damage. In this case, litigation has been used to seek compensation for the damage claimed to be caused by the blocks. Some cases have been settled out of court, while litigation continues with several others.
If you believe a defective product has caused you to suffer an injury or has damaged your property, a member of our team can discuss your options and advise whether you are entitled to seek compensation. You can trust our team’s experience and legal insight to help you navigate the litigation process and seek justice for the impact caused by a defective product.
Experienced litigation solicitors at Gibson & Associates LLP
At Gibson & Associates LLP, we understand that unresolved issues can be stressful and emotionally draining. That’s why our experienced litigation solicitors provide the support and in-depth legal expertise needed for our clients to pursue the next step in conflict resolution with confidence. Litigation may be the right choice if a legal dispute cannot be resolved through negotiation or alternative dispute resolution methods; our caring team will take the time to listen and understand your issue and provide advice on the most effective way to resolve your dispute.
If you are concerned about an issue or are involved in a dispute, please get in touch with a member of our team for advice about your legal options, on (01) 536 8223 or at email [email protected].