Civil Litigation – how does it work?
Civil litigation is a careful dance in which each side seeks to uncover weaknesses in the other side’s position and prepare themselves for negotiations and trial. Whilecases will settle before trial, when a dispute has arisen and there has been correspondence between the parties that hasn’t resulted in a resolution, it will proceed to civil litigation.
Litigation lawyers can quickly assess your situation and consider the matter through the lens of the court. Once they understand your matter, they can start to form an opinion about the merits of your case and devise a strategy or plan to resolve the dispute.
Essentially, a litigation lawyer needs to establish your rights at law and the best way to enforce them.
There are a variety of ways to resolve disputes, they can be injunctions for urgent matters or initiating a claim in Court for other disputes.
To initiate a civil lawsuit in Court, the plaintiff files a formal statement of claim, which the defendant then answers. This establishes the parameters of the legal clash that will follow.
Getting the details of the claim right is critical as these details can set the tone and, if well drafted, establish a strong case. The initial claim should be well considered to be fully effective and set up the next stage of negotiation.
When the lawsuit enters the ‘discovery’ stage, each party is required to answer questions posed by other parties and turn over relevant documents.
Typically, neither side wishes to disclose information damaging to its case. It is the role of your lawyer to argue strenuously and request information to be revealed that may help strengthen your claim.
The judge may be asked to issue discovery orders if the other party is not forthcoming.
Mediation is an important part of most lawsuits. The parties may be required, at multiple stages of the litigation process to attend mediation.
Mediation usually occurs in the presence of an independent court-appointed person, known as a mediator, and at mediation, the parties attempt to negotiate a settlement.
Your lawyer and barrister will represent you at mediation.
Mediation is a good opportunity for the parties to resolve their dispute and reach a formal agreement. It is important that your legal representatives can not only negotiate well in mediation, but properly draft a suitable settlement deed. A poorly drafted or considered settlement deed can disadvantage you.
If the parties don’t settle at mediation, the matter will continue to trial. Before trial, both parties often file briefs asking the court to reject certain claims or defences. The reasoning for this is on the grounds that the other party has no chance of prevailing on these certain claims.
At trial, a barrister will take the reins of the lawsuit from the solicitor. The solicitor continues to assist in the trial as they have the most knowledge of the case and the documentation.
The lawsuit does not necessarily end with the trial court outcome because the losing party can file an appeal to a higher court.
At every stage of a lawsuit, the expertise of a competent and experienced lawyer can make a crucial difference in the outcome for the client.