An Introduction to Civil Litigation Checks
When bringing a new individual into your company tribe, you need to be sure that you’re employing the very best person for the job. Civil Litigation Checks can help make sure that the winning candidate slots comfortably into company culture and drives your business closer to its goals.
Good employers know that reliable background screening is key to a successful hire. A full set of online background checks provide important insights which reduce company risk and help you make a great hiring decision.
Our comprehensive guide to background screening when hiring remotely gives you a full overview of all the checks you need to consider based on role type. Download it here.
In this post, we discuss civil litigation checks as part of our “Everything You Need to Know” series. We’ll provide the complete lowdown on civil background checks; what they uncover, why they’re so important, which candidates should have the check and how to carry out a successful civil litigation search.
What Are Civil Litigation Checks?
There are two types of background checks which relate to a candidate’s legal history:
- Criminal background screening
- Civil litigation checks
One easy way to remember the difference is that civil law seeks to remedy a situation (by providing compensation), while criminal law seeks to punish the perpetrator and deter people from offending.
Civil proceedings involve disputes between private individuals or companies.
A UK civil litigation check will include a search of the following courts:
- Administration Orders
- Child Support Agency Liability Orders
- High Court Judgements
- Defaults from Magistrates Courts
- Tribunal Awards
Global civil litigation checks are carried out on a country by country basis and will vary according to territory. A specialist screening provider can carry out searches in all countries of residence.Criminal law largely relates to offences that are considered as being against society as a whole.
Criminal proceedings are the result of someone breaking a criminal law, with the offender receiving punishment of some kind if found guilty.
Civil law relates to disputes between private individuals or companies. Civil proceedings seek to resolve situations often through financial compensation, resulting in a person being found liable or not liable.
Civil proceedings against a person or company might be financial, including:
- Debt Relief Orders (DROs and DRRUs)
- Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs)
- Fast Track Voluntary Arrangements (FTAs)
- Bankruptcy Restriction Orders/Undertakings (BROs/BRUs)
- Interim Bankruptcy Restriction Orders (iBROs)
- Interim Debt Relief Restrictions Orders (iDRROs).
- Any breach of contract
Civil action might involve personal injury cases:
- Road accidents
- Medical negligence
- Slips, trips and falls
Or employment disputes:
- Breach of contract
Civil litigation checks are also known as Civil Litigation History, Civil Litigation Search, Civil Check, Civil Record Searches, Civil Court Search
A Brief History of Civil Records Checks
Civil litigation checks began with financial institutions who wanted to ensure that anyone they leant money to was not litigious and would not expose their loans to risk by attaching funds to opposing parties. The legal sector soon caught on to the benefits of civil records searches, and began carrying out civil litigation searches on opponents and prospective clients.
Civil records checks have now become a significant part of due diligence in employment too, as they can provide useful information into an applicant’s character and motivation.
Why Are Civil Litigation Checks Important?
Civil litigation searches can be extremely beneficial in making empowered hiring decisions. They provide current information regarding a candidates financial situation (whether or not someone is subject to debt or financial constraints), as well as insights into moral and employment character.
Dealing with any red flags that arise as a result of the check will help prevent nasty surprises after contracts have been signed.
Key Questions to Ask Following a Civil Litigation Search
Carrying out a civil litigation check might provide a jumping off point for further investigation into a candidate, or it might rule them out completely. In short…
“A civil litigation check might help turn a longlist into a short list.”
When faced with the results of a civil litigation check, take note of any particular red flags. The following questions might be useful:
- Is the candidate suitable for a position of financial responsibility if they’re in debt?
- What is the candidate’s motivation for applying for the role and is it honorable?
- If a candidate has made multiple personal injury claims, does that mean they will need time off work to deal with current claims?
- Will any outstanding judgements create extra work for the payroll department, for example through an attachment of earnings order?
- Has the candidate made multiple compensation claims against past employers? Could your company be a target?
Civil Litigation Checks Glossary of Terms
The meaning of some of the key terms you might come across in a Civil Litigation Search:
Aggravated Damages – Additional damages awarded by the court as compensation
Alternative Dispute Resolution – methods of resolving disputes other than through the normal trial process
Arbitration: an alternative method of settling civil disputes by using a impartial party (an arbitrator to make a determination. Often private and confidential
Breach of contract: Breaking or not complying with the terms laid out in a contract
CPR: Civil Procedure Rules, new rules for proceedings in the High Court and County Court
Damages: A sum of money awarded to the claimant
Damages-based agreement – an agreement which complies with the Damages-Based Agreement Regulations 2013
Direct Discrimination: Where a person has been treated unfavourably on the grounds of sex, sexuality, age, disability, race or any of the protected characteristics
Discharged: Bankruptcy was allowed, and restrictions from bankruptcy have now been discharged
Exemplary Damages - damages beyond compensation for actual loss, awarded by the court to show their disapproval of a defendants behaviour
In Camera: Certain parts of hearings not open to the public inspection
Indemnity – The right of someone to recover their own liability of payment from a third party
Joint Liability – Parties are jointly liable for a single liability and can each be held liable for the entire liability
Lien: The right to retain assets or other possessions until a debt is paid
NOPI: Not open for public inspection
Release: A receiver is now discharged from the liabilities of office
Stay: A halt on proceedings
Tort: Type of civil case including negligence cases as well as international wrongs which result in harm
TUPE: Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) employment law that applied when a business merged
Without Prejudice – when the content of negotiations of a settlement are limited in how they are revealed to the court
How Long Does A Civil Litigation Check Take?
When carried out by a reputable screening company, a global civil litigation check should take no more than 7 days to complete. Local civil litigation checks might take as little as 24 hours.
Which Roles Require A Civil Litigation Check?
A civil litigation check can provide useful information for all roles and positions and in all industries, but it is most commonly performed for management and executive roles.
Roles in the financial and legal sector should also be subject to civil litigation checks in order to satisfy due diligence.
Potential Difficulties Of Civil Litigation Checks
Civil litigation checks help employers make empowered decisions about candidates. But as with all employment screening, results should be considered in the context of the candidates entire application. Looking at a single result in isolation could skew outcomes and lead to employers missing out on a great candidate due to a past history which is not relevant to the role.
Likewise, all employers have a responsibility to ensure Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) in their workforce. This includes avoiding unconscious bias. Employers must be careful to avoid discriminating against candidates solely on the grounds of past employment compensation claims.
- Civil Litigation Checks are searches of civil court actions
- Reveal any court proceedings of disputes between companies or individuals
- Civil checks might help determine financial situation
- Can provide insights into a candidates character
- Always carry out civil litigation checks on managers and executives
- Civil litigation checks are recommended for the financial and legal sector
- Civil litigation checks are carried out on a single country basis. Make sure checks have been conducted for all countries of past residence.
- Protect your business by making civil litigation checks part of your employee screening practice
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