Civil Litigation: Definition, Examples, Commencement and Stages
Civil litigation is the process that involves civil cases that are resolved in the court of law. Though it is a legal process it does not involve the cases related to government and person or any criminal case.
Basically, cases involved in civil litigation are cases involving non-criminal legal disputes that may involve two people, groups, or parties, maybe in marriage or any business proposal.
The lawyers who have specialization in civil litigation are the litigators or the trial lawyers. Civil litigation attorneys are the client’s advocates who give their best to have decisions in the favour of their client.
Examples of Civil Litigation case:
- Breach of a contract
- People involved in an accident
- Dispute between Spouses
- Medical malpractice
- Fraud, etc
Commencement of Civil Litigation:
A civil case is commenced when a person or the party (plaintiff) files a case in the civil court, claiming that he/she is harmed in any way by the deeds of the other person or the party (defendant).
While filing the complaint against the defendant, the plaintiff may ask for the damages in monetary form (the defendant will have to pay for the harm ) or the plaintiff may ask for an injunction (the court must order the defendant from or to do anything), or even the plaintiff for declaratory judgment.
Stages involved in Civil Litigation:
It’s not a compulsion that every civil case will follow the same procedure, the court may rearrange the stages for how the civil litigation procedure will be followed depending on the complexity of the case. Well, there are seven stages that are mostly followed in civil cases:
- Investigation: This is the first stage in which the attorney investigates the claims and collects evidence that could be done by visiting the place of the accident or the dispute, asking the questions to the witnesses informally, as every piece of information can go for or against the plaintiff or the defendant.
2. Pleading: Pleading is the backbone of any lawsuit. It is done to start any case in which the plaintiff in written files a complaint against the defendant and give details of the case and damages done. In response to it, the defendant files some type of answer to it.
3. Discovery: It is the longest and most essential part of the civil case. In this stage, both sides involved in the case exchange information, proofs, witnesses, strength, and weaknesses through deposition, interrogatories, subpoenas. The discovery phase helps both sides to be prepared. Basically, it is the process that determines the case will be won or lost.
4. Pre-trial proceedings: Some of the cases are resolved doing the pre-trial stage.
In this stage attorneys of both sides try to enter into a negotiation or settlement. During this stage, the party may file motions to resolve or narrow the issues for trial and the motions can be-a Motion to compel, motion to dismiss, or motion for summary judgment.
For example, the plaintiff can ask a certain amount of monetary value and then the defendant will have a limited time to answer for it, and if the defendant agrees for the same the case is settled at pre-trial proceedings.
5. Trial: The majority of the civil cases are settled before this stage that is at the pre-trial proceedings. The cases that are not solved till this stage are heard by the judge or the jury. In this stage the witnesses are examined and cross-questioned by the lawyers of both sides in front of the judge, then on this basis, the judge or the jury take their decision.
6. Settlement: After taking into consideration the evidence and the witnesses presented, the judge or the jury announces the settlement.
7. Appeal: This is the last stage of a civil litigation case, in this stage, the attorney of both sides have the power to file an appeal on the behalf of their client if they feel the judgment was unfair.
So, in simple terms, civil litigation can be defined as the legal process in which civil cases that are non-criminal disputes are resolved in a court of law. The procedure for such cases began as the plaintiff filed a case against the defendant. Most of the cases are settled during the pre-trial proceeding but depending on the complexity of the case the stages can be modified for how the process of civil litigation is to be carried out can also be modified.