Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of your legal Questions

Below are some common questions we’re often asked by clients. However, if you have a question that has not been answered here, please fill our form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

    Elvis Keshi

    Principal Counsel,
    Megafield Solicitors

    General Lawsuits & Disputes

    In what ways are criminal and civil trials different?

    The difference between a criminal and civil trial is that a criminal trial involves the government and a civil trial involves an individual.

    A criminal case is where someone has violated a law, so the government (federal or state) prosecutes that person. The Federal Government prosecutes cases involving federal crimes. State governments prosecute cases involving violations of state laws, known as state crimes.

    In a criminal case the state or Federal Government prosecutes an individual who has been charged with violating a law. The only possible outcomes in a criminal case are guilty or not guilty, and the only penalties are fines or time in prison.

    In a civil case, parties on both sides are private individuals, companies or organisations. The outcome is decided by possible monetary damages awarded to one side from the other, but there can be no prison time involved for either side.

    I received notification that someone was suing me. What should I do?

    If you are being sued, it is important to take prompt steps to respond to the lawsuit. If you do not act within a certain amount of time, you may be required to pay the amount claimed by the other party without having an opportunity to present your side of the case.

    If you don't have a lawyer, the first thing to do is search for one who specialises in your type of case. We strongly advise against trying to represent yourself in court, as it's unlikely to go well for you.

    Next, be sure to meet any filing deadlines required by the court. If you miss them, you may lose even if you have a strong case.

    Finally, don't ignore any communications from the other party's lawyer or the court. If you do, your opponent may win by default — meaning that they don't even have to show up in court because you failed to respond to their complaint.

    How does a statute of limitations work?

    A statute of limitations is the time limit set by law for bringing particular legal actions. There are  statutes of limitation for different kinds of lawsuits. 

    In most civil law cases, the limitation period begins when the incident being sued upon occurred. For example, a person injured in a car accident has two years to file suit from the date of the crash.

    If you wait too long to sue someone, you can lose your right to do so forever. Once the time period has passed, you can no longer bring your lawsuit (or take other legal action) regardless of how strong your case may be.

    Statutes of limitations are designed to prevent people from pursuing claims after evidence is stale and witnesses are difficult to find, or with the intention of harassing others.

    The general principle is that evidence degrades over time, so there is a point beyond which it becomes unfair for someone to raise litigation. However there are many exceptions, especially in criminal law and child abuse cases.

    Is mediation covered under litigation law?

    Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). In contrast to litigation, ADR is much less formal and is available for many types of disputes. It is cheaper and faster than going to court.

    The court will often order the parties to mediate before going through with the litigation process. Litigation solicitors deal with all types of civil cases — including professional negligence claims, commercial disputes, property disputes, personal injury claims and defamation proceedings.

    At Megafield Solicitors, our litigation lawyers are experts in helping people resolve conflicts and disputes.If you are unsure whether mediation is applicable in your case, give us a call and we'll be happy to help you out.

    Can we resolve our dispute among ourselves?

    If you decide to settle the dispute amongst yourselves, that is perfectly fine. However, we would recommend that you and the other party sign a document confirming the terms of your settlement. This is a legally binding document which shows that you have reached an agreement and that both parties intend to be bound by it. 

    In some cases, it can be hard to prove that an agreement has been reached without such a document. You should also get advice from us before signing such a document, as there may be unexpected consequences of settling the matter privately.

    We will continue to provide our legal services until you reach an agreement or withdraw your claim.

    Family - Domestic Violence

    I'm worried about my safety and that of my children. What can I do?

    Call the police if you have a genuine fear for your safety or the safety of your family. You should also consider applying for a protection order against the person who is making your feel unsafe. Protection orders are also commonly known as restraining orders, or sometimes “non-molestation orders.”

    If you feel that your safety, or the safety of anyone else living with you, is in danger because of the actions of someone else (for example, your ex-partner) then you may be able to get a protection order to keep them away from you.

    The court can make different types of protection order depending on the circumstances, and they can vary in terms of length and stringency. Most orders made by the court will be temporary until there can be a full hearing where both sides have an opportunity to put their case forward.

    Is abusive behavior limited to physical violence? When does aggressive language, insults and threatening gestures cross the line into an abusive relationship?

    Domestic violence encompasses more than just physical abuse.

    Physical abuse is just one form of abuse, and abusers can use a variety of tactics, such as economic control, isolation, emotional and verbal abuse, stalking and intimidation to dominate their victims. These tactics are designed to put the abuser in control of their victim's life and prevent them from leaving the relationship.

    If you are experiencing any of these behaviours, or are afraid that you might experience them, it is important to know that your situation is not hopeless and there is help available.

    Emotional, verbal and other forms of abuse can be just as damaging as physical violence. All types of abuse are illegal, and we are here to help you report the offenses to the proper authorities and get you the justice you deserve.

    Can I file for divorce and divide our property?

    When a marriage breaks down, it is possible to get divorced and sort out finances at the same time. However, it is important to note that the divorce itself will not deal with any property issues you may have (for example, disputes about who gets to keep the house) nor any financial claims you may have against your spouse.

    The divorce process is simply concerned with ending the marriage - and if there are children involved, arrangements for their care and upbringing.

    If you do want to sort out finances with your spouse, this can either be dealt with by means of court proceedings or privately (that is, without involving the courts). The majority of cases we deal with are settled privately between parties (and their solicitors).

    If you think you would like to take steps to end your marriage and sort out finances at the same time, please contact us immediately.

    I am not receiving my spousal maintenance payments, what should I do?

    You can apply to the court for enforcement of any orders or agreements that have been made regarding spousal maintenance. The court may make an order for payment of arrears or in some instances order that the other party be sold and/or imprisoned until they pay the amount owing. This is known as committal proceedings and this route should only be taken if all other options have failed.

    I’m having trouble keeping up with my maintenance payments to my ex-spouse, what can I do?

    If you don’t think you can afford to pay your spousal maintenance, you can apply to the court for a reduction in your payments. You will need to provide evidence that you are unable to maintain the current payments. It is very helpful if you provide the Court with evidence from your employer and your bank statements. If there is no change in your financial circumstances, it is likely the Court will not reduce your spousal maintenance payments.

    Employment & Labour Laws

    Have I been wrongfully terminated/fired?

    f you have been fired, it is not necessarily wrongful. If you were fired for misconduct, then your employer will have acted lawfully. If, however, you were dismissed because of a protected characteristic (e.g. race, gender), or due to whistle-blowing (reporting wrongdoing in the workplace), then this constitutes unlawful dismissal.

    If you do believe that you have been wrongfully terminated from your job, contact Megafield Solicitors today and we will advise you on what steps can be taken to seek compensation for loss of earnings incurred as a result of your unfair dismissal.

    Is there any way I can tell if I have been harassed or discriminated against?

    The law prohibits harassment on the basis of certain characteristics, including sex, race, disability and sexual orientation.

    Harassment is not only illegal, but it is also potentially damaging to you and your business. If a court finds that an employer has tolerated harassment (even if they were unaware of it), they can be held liable for any damages caused by the harassment.

    To avoid this possibility, employers need to ensure they take steps to prevent potential harassment and act swiftly if harassment occurs.

    If you are being harassed in your workplace, there are steps you can take to deal with it.

    How should an employee's pregnancy affect her rights at work?

    Employees who are pregnant are protected from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. This means that employers must not treat employees less favourably because they are pregnant.

    The law provides special protection to employees who are pregnant or on maternity leave. Employees who are pregnant have the right to statutory maternity leave and pay. Whilst on maternity leave, an employee is entitled to return to their job at the end of their leave, or if they cannot return to the same job, a suitable alternative job with no detriment. It is unlawful for an employer to dismiss an employee because she is pregnant or has exercised her right to take maternity leave.

    If you have suffered unfavourable treatment because of your pregnancy, or have been discriminated against because you have just had a baby or have recently returned from maternity leave, then you may be able to bring a claim against your employer under the Equality Act.

    Is it possible to sue my employer?

    It depends on what for. If you've been discriminated against at work, or forced to work in an unsafe environment, then yes, you can sue your employer for damages. But if you're just unhappy with your job and want to get out of it, then suing your employer is unlikely to help.

    You can sue your employer if they've breached their employment contract with you or acted unlawfully. The first step of the process is to gather evidence. Keep a record of events, including dates and times, and ensure you have all the relevant documents. Get in touch with an Employment lawyer for an initial consultation.

    Can I sue more than one person or company (or both) in one lawsuit?

    Yes, but it depends on the facts and circumstances of your case. The general rule is that the claims are related if they arise from the same conduct, transaction, or occurrence ("conduct test") or if there is an efficient judicial examination of the issues because there are common questions of law and fact ("commonality test"). If neither of these is satisfied, then you must file separate lawsuits.

    The test for determining whether a civil action has arisen out of the "same conduct" is whether there exists a series of related acts which may occur over a period of time and which involve the same parties or parties in privity with them.

    In summary, it is possible to bring a case against many defendants, including individuals and companies, under certain circumstances – this is known as ‘multiple party litigation’. But it can become complicated due to various issues arising, such as which court has jurisdiction over the case and whether all parties are being sued for the same allegations. 

    The process of multiple party litigation can also become expensive due to the need for more defendants and therefore more lawyers, but if you have several individuals or companies that have been jointly negligent in causing your injuries then it could be worth pursuing multiple party litigation.

    What if my employer pays me less than the minimum wage?

    If you are under the age of 21 and are not a member of a trade union, your employer may pay you less than the National Minimum Wage.

    If you're an apprentice, your employer may also pay you less than the National Minimum Wage, but only if you're under 19 years old or have been in an apprenticeship for less than a year.

    If you're on work experience or training, your employer may pay you nothing at all.

    Simisola Familola

    Associate Counsel,
    Megafield Solicitors

    Oluwadarasimi C. Abolarin

    Associate Counsel,
    Megafield Solicitors

    Elisabeth Durojaye

    Admin Secretary,
    Megafield Solicitors

    Free Consultation