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What is Civil Litigation?

What is Civil Litigation?

If you have recently come across a news article on civil litigation and are wondering what exactly it means, this article will be useful to you. Apart from sharing some information on civil litigation, we will also take a look at the civil litigation procedure.
Rahul Pandita
Civil litigation is a broad term that is used to describe the legal process which is non-criminal in nature. Civil litigation is a lawsuit in which a party seeks damages from the other party, which can be in monetary or in any other form. The party that files the complaint is known as the plaintiff and the party which is accused of the damage is known as the defendant. Some instances when an individual or an entity may proceed with a civil litigation is family-law disputes, defamation charges, debt-settlement, personal injury, discrimination etc. This was in brief about what is civil litigation, now let's move onto the civil litigation process.

Civil Litigation Procedure

The process of a civil litigation starts with the plaintiff lodging a complaint against the defendant. This stage is known as the pleading stage. It gives the defendant an option to fully go through the complaint and contest certain elements of the complaint, which he feels are irrelevant or frivolous. If the defendant is able to convince the court that the language of the complaint needs to be amended, then the court may direct the plaintiff to rework the complaint so that it can be refiled.

After pleading, the next stage in the civil litigation process is known as discovery. In this process, each side comes up with substantial evidence to support their claims. This stage also marks the interaction between both the parties and their lawyers as the contesting parties are allowed to check the supporting evidence and questions. Normally, the questions are either asked through written or oral format, known as interrogatories and deposition respectively.

Motion of Summary
The next step in the process of civil litigation is a motion of summary judgment. This motion is filed by the defendant to claim that the evidence presented by the plaintiff is insufficient and does not support the claim against the defendant. The court considering all the evidence that is presented by the plaintiff, has to decide whether the lawsuit will be entertained or abandoned. In case the lawsuit is rejected by the court, the plaintiff has the option to file the complaint in a higher court.

If the motion of summary judgment is in the favor of the plaintiff, then the next step in the course of a civil litigation is that the defendant needs to stand on trial. Usually, both the parties try to seek out a middle path to the conflict by taking the help of a mediator. Not only does this allow to settle the matter quickly, but it also saves a lot of time and money that goes into a trial. If the concerned parties are not able to reach an agreement, even after having mutual discussions, then there is no other option for the court but to start a trial procedure. The trial starts with the clerk of the court nominating individuals who can act as jurors in the case. These individuals are interviewed by the trial judge and the respective attorney, so that ambiguities if any, can be looked into. When both parties agree on the composition of the jury, the jury members are given an oath, and the formal trial begins.

Closing arguments
With the commencement of the trial, each side presents their case, after which the court allows the attorneys from both sides to have closing arguments. This is the ultimate time for the attorneys to convince the jury members to decide in their favor. The jury members too are briefed by the trial judge on the relevant laws that might be applicable in the case.

Once the jury has been briefed by the trial judge, they hold deliberations to come out with a verdict on the case. At this juncture, no party is allowed to present any evidence or hold negotiations. On reaching a consensus, the jury members present the verdict to the trial judge, who then approves the verdict and drafts a 'Final Judgment Order', which becomes the official ruling on the case.

This was some information on civil litigation. Though it acts as a powerful tool for individuals to seek justice if they feel that they have been wronged, it usually takes a lot of time for the case to proceed from pleading to the trial. A majority of civil litigation cases, therefore, are solved outside the court by seeking the services of a mediator. We have come to the conclusion of this article, and we hope that this information will be useful to you.