When mediation, arbitration and other informal resolutions for disputes are no longer possible, civil litigation is the next legal step to take. Disputes may cover many areas and usually, one party seeks financial compensations from another party. As an example, a claimant may pursue damages of personal injuries or payments for unpaid projects. The goal of civil litigation isn’t always for going to court as settlements can often be reached without a trial.
Let’s take a look at the stages of civil litigation:
Correspondence- civil litigation starts when a party, called the claimant, sends a letter to another party, called the defendant. This letter is the basis of claims in civil litigation. The defendant must reply and send a letter of response. Usually, the defendant seeks an amicable agreement. If no settlement can be reached or the defendant is no longer responsive, it will proceed to the next stage. The claimant will issue proceedings at court and the defendant is required to file a Defence or Answer document within a specific timeframe. If the defendant still fails to comply properly, the judge could make a legal decision that favours the claimant.
Discovery- if both parties respond appropriately, the discovery process will start. This involves witness interviews, document reviews and comprehensive legal research to discover evidence and other supporting facts. Lawyers from both sides may also ask expert opinions to validate their legal positions. The discovery phase can be time-consuming, and this is where lawyers spend most of their time.
Pre-trial- pre-trial stage begins when both sides complete the discovery process. This is the last opportunity for both sides to reach an amicable agreement. Based on discovered evidence and facts, the negotiation process can be more effective. If both parties realise that the result of the trial is certain, they may agree on a settlement. Common sense could save them time and money. If both parties decide to proceed, they may use motions, so the court dismisses certain parts of the case or make a ruling before the trial begins.
Trial- the case goes to trial if both parties are unable to reach an agreement. Depending on the case or local legal laws, the trial may or may not involve juries. At this stage, the claimant is designated as a plaintiff. Before the actual trial, the judge receives briefs from both parties. These briefs describe the evidence and arguments that both parties have. During the trial, they make opening statements, question, pursue arguments further and provide closing arguments. The jury and judge decide the verdict, based on all details.
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To learn more about civil litigation and hiring a personal injury solicitor, contact Aman Solicitors Advocates today.
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