What Is A Civil Dispute?

A civil dispute refers to a conflict between two or more parties, usually involving private rights or contractual disagreements. Finding yourself in the middle of a complex civil dispute can be challenging, and depending on the route you choose to go down, they can also be costly and time-consuming. Below we have outlined a few key things you need to be aware of and the possible outcomes.

What Kind Of Civil Disputes Arise?

Civil disputes can both start off small and grow over time, or be sudden and unexpected. Either way, we understand the toll they can take on yourself and loved ones. Issues can also vary in type and be of a personal or business nature, however, the most common examples include: 

Contract Disputes:

Contractual issues may arise for one of several reasons, such as a disagreement over contract terms, non-compliance with the terms or confusion over the interpretation of the contract itself. This usually occurs between employer and employees but can also happen with businesses and consumers.

Personal Injury Claims:

Any incident that results in injuries can lead to a civil dispute. The aim of starting proceedings is usually, but not always, to seek financial renumerations from the party responsible. Thus restoring the claimant to the position they were in before, or to provide additional funds which are classed as compensation for the injury.

Property & Boundary Disputes:

Any legal disputes around property and real estate will fall under this category. Whether it’s a problem with neighbours infringing on an adjacent property, excessive noise or regarding the actual property ownership itself.

Landlord & Tenant Disputes:

Issues regarding landlords and tenants are one of the most common areas of civil disputes. Ranging from breach of contract negotiations to rent arrears and maintenance/repair disagreements.

Family Matters:

Family issues can arise from disputes over child custody arrangements, or lack thereof, during a divorce or separation. The separation itself could also be the root cause of the problem, leading to a build-up of issues. The death or a loved one can also be an emotional time, leading to disagreements around wills and inheritance.

Professional Negligence:

Medical negligence is perhaps the dispute that comes to mind when professional negligence is mentioned. There are however a range of areas that can constitute negligence, and it in fact refers to any person or organisation that fails to meet the standards of skill or care that is expected. Whether that be in a medical setting or one that leads to financial losses for one of the parties. 

Disputes Over Purchases Or Goods:

If you have received products or services that you believe aren’t as advertised or agreed upon but are unable to obtain a refund/replacement, this may constitute a civil dispute. Each individual case will have its own unique needs, however this may be the route to choose if you feel there are no other options.

What Can I Do To Solve A Civil Dispute?

Solving a civil dispute is rarely straightforward in nature. There are a range of routes available which usually start with ADR or ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution’ which includes:


If both parties consent (this is a voluntary process) then either they, or their representatives, will try and find a suitable solution without resorting to litigation.


Not dissimilar to negotiation, mediation is the same setting as the above, however a trained third-party will liaise between both sides in order to move the process along and help find a logical conclusion.


This involves a third-party arbitrator who acts as a judge and listens to both sides before making a decision. The outcome will be legally binding and can be filed in court.

The Final Option: Civil Litigation

Should none of the above work, the final step would be civil litigation, where your case goes to court. This could either be held in front of a tribunal, or in front of a jury. The latter option is sometimes chosen when having an outsider’s perspective can be helpful i.e. personal injury claims or contract disputes. It’s important to consult a solicitor long before it reaches this final stage, as you can thoroughly discuss all possible outcomes beforehand and be fully prepared.

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