Civil litigation is the term used for when two or more parties are embroiled in a legal dispute, where one or more of the parties are seeking money or other reparations as opposed to criminal sanctions. Civil litigation cases can and do end up in front of a judge in a courtroom.
Of course, understanding the tenets of civil litigation is not always easy – during such cases, companies and individuals will seek the advice of a lawyer who specialises in civil litigation – known as a “litigator”. This can help make navigating the path of a civil litigation suit that little bit easier. Below are the key steps to civil litigation to help you gain a deeper understanding of the process.
There are lots of reasons why civil litigation cases take place, such as:
- A contractor delivered sub-standard work which needs to be rectified
- A client has experienced a loss of earnings due to work not being completed on time
- A contractor has damaged property belonging to a client while executing their duty
Civil Litigation Meaning: The Six Key Steps
1) Initial Pleadings
When litigation proceedings occur, the plaintiff must serve the defendant with a court summons. This summons should be easy to understand and not contain legal arguments. The defendant should be given a limited time period to file a response via letter.
Once the defendant has responded, some courts will require disclosures. Disclosures typically involve evidence-gathering from witnesses with information about the case, the highlighting of any relevant insurance agreements or contracts in place, and a computation of the damages sought.
This is often the longest part of any civil lawsuit. Both parties are given the opportunity to seek evidence via written interrogation, requests for inspection, requests for admissions (specific facts that a party must admit or deny) or depositions (the verbal examination of witness accounts). The discovery process can take a long time, depending on the complexity of the case.
A motion is a request for an order to be laid down by the court. Motions can be made in writing, or during a hearing. A Motion for Summary Judgement is the most common and is used when the facts have been “locked in” and completely undisputed by either party.
Civil litigation cases which cannot be solved by motion or settlements must go to trial, where a presiding magistrate or team of magistrates will preside over the case. This step is only taken when two parties cannot work out their differences.
6) Post-Trial Appeals
Once the court has delivered its verdict, the losing party has the option to appeal the outcome. If the party in question has good grounds for doing so, this can result in a new civil litigation case taking place.
If you require more information about how civil litigation works, why not contact Bowsers today to speak to a qualified lawyer about your case?