Litigation: In personal injury litigation appeal may not stop execution.

If a claim has been brought against a company, in some cases the law provides an option for the claimant to request immediate enforcement of the judgement. It means that the award may be enforced regardless of whether the judgement of first instance court is appealed. Such option is permitted in cases the child support is claimed, in personal injury cases, in case of undisputed claims and employment disputes among others. Also, if a delay in enforcement of a potentially favourable judgement may cause substantial harm or may not be possible later, the claimant may request the court to permit immediate enforcement of the judgement. However, it may be generally possible only pursuant to a provision of security by the claimant.

The aforementioned possibility provides a risk that a defendant could face especially in employment and personal injury cases. For instance, if a compensation that is finally determined by the court is claimed, the defendant faces a risk that it would have to pay a relatively large and unpredictable amount despite appealing the judgement of the first instance court later on. In case such compensation has been paid and a subsequent judgement of the court of appeals is in favour of the defendant or the award is smaller, the defendant may find it difficult to get the money back, if possible. In certain cases, it may even undermine the rationale behind the ensuing proceedings in the court of appeals and potentially further from the defendant’s perspective.

In the light of this possibility, a risk management strategy must be developed and implemented. There are no warranties that it cannot happen, but there are ways to anticipate that risk.

First, it is highly advisable to seek professional legal assistance before the case has gone to the court. It will help to assess the gravity of a potential issue and what are the possible ways to deal with it.

Second, the scenarios that could lead to an out-of-court settlement or any other mutually acceptable solution should be considered. A rational and pragmatic approach by both parties at an early stage may help to save money and avoid risks.

Third, an employer or a liable party in personal injury case should be in a position to prove the defences against the claim once it is brought. It almost always is more likely to win, if preparing for the case begins not when a notification of already initiated court proceedings is received, but once a problem that could end up being a court case emerges. Therefore, at an early stage, it can already be possible to evaluate the likelihood and measure of unwanted consequences of letting the case go to the court and decide what is a good settlement and whether it is the way to go.

by Jānis Kubilis, Head of Dispute Resolution, Latvia

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