The key to controlling the cost of trust litigation is effective management believes one of Jersey’s most experienced trust lawyers.
Crill Canavan’s head of fiduciary, Advocate Richard Pirie, told delegates at an offshore trust conference this month that establishing clear responsibility and managing processes effectively would save time and costs should an issue become contentious.
Advocate Pirie shared some of his 20 years’ experience of trust law both in-house and in private practice with senior trust professionals at the OPC Trust Litigation conference on Friday 18 February 2011.
He told delegates that good document management is essential to meet court-imposed time limits for the disclosure of all documents which are relevant to the issues pleaded in the case and which are not the subject of privilege.
‘If discovery takes longer due to poor document management systems, the company in question may not recover all the time spent, if they are successful and obtain an order for costs.
‘So managing processes effectively – and clear responsibility for management – are ways to reduce the potential costs of litigation before it even arises.’
Advocate Pirie warned delegates of the dangers of unintentionally waiving privilege, particularly by sending emails to multiple recipients. He also urged delegates to identify and take into account the non-financial costs of trust litigation, including lost management and staff time and potential reputational damage. His advice, he said, is to seek early settlement and be prepared to negotiate.
‘Bring in a mediator early – not as last resort,’ he said. ‘But clearly litigation is sometimes necessary. It may seem counter-intuitive, but my advice to keep costs down if litigation begins is to involve the experts early. Make sure you work out a strategy and stick with it; agree a budget with your team and try to be constructive throughout the process.’
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