Litigation is the legal process through which an aggrieved party seeks the judgment of a court in resolving a dispute. The disputes can be of any kind: from eviction proceedings to criminal cases. This process is governed by litigation law.
This is a complex process that requires a good understanding of the required rules and procedures to be followed whether in filing a lawsuit or responding; as well as the laws that deal with the specific type of case at hand.
Many legal cases are resolved through negotiation in which the parties involved come to an agreement on specified terms. Depending on the case at hand, litigation lawyers may advice their client to negotiate with the opposing party. This is often the case when the lawyer feels that the costs of pursuing the case in court outweigh the possible benefits for the client or the client’s chances of winning if the case goes to court are low. However, if the parties fail to agree in the initial negotiation step, the claimant may file a law suit with the court.
Steps in the litigation process
- Litigation often begins when the aggrieved party (plaintiff) sends a copy of the complaint filed with the court to the other party in the dispute (defendant). The defendant then responds to the complaint, providing their side of the story or files a counterclaim. This step defines the issue that the court is needed to address.
- Once the complaint and answer have been filed and amended as necessary, the discovery step begins. This involves gathering relevant information from various quarters; for use during the trial. The information is collected from a variety of sources by reviewing documents, interviewing witnesses, researching the law and asking the other party in the lawsuit questions. The lawyers representing the plaintiff and the defendant can facilitate the collection of information through formal requests for admission and copies of documents. They may also seek the testimony of an expert witness or file motions to seek a ruling or clarification on procedural disagreements.
- After the discovery step is completed, the disputing parties go to trial where they present evidence to argue their case. The witnesses are called in, questioned and cross examined after which the judge or jury deliberates and makes a decision.
- When the judgment has been delivered, any party that is not happy with the ruling may file an appeal if they believe there was a legal error.
Though an individual may choose to handle the litigation process on their own, the process is best handled by a litigation lawyer. The complexity of the litigation process requires a good understanding of the required rules and procedures to be followed whether in filing a lawsuit or responding; as well as the laws that deal with the specific type of case at hand. A litigation lawyer will guide you through the process from the pleadings to the appeal stage. He will help you file your lawsuit and argue your case. If you are the one being sued, he will defend you in court. He will also advice you on settling any post-trial debt and assists you to fight a judgment if you wish to do so.