Civil Law

When Do I Need A Civil Litigation Lawyer?

Civil matters are limited to private individuals, including corporations, who have a dispute over money, contracts, personal injuries as well as a whole host of other disputes. Any civil matter where a claim exists for over $35,000.00, or a specific legal remedy is required, falls under the umbrella of civil litigation. While the Rules of Civil Procedure of Ontario can seem overwhelming, and many people do not know how to even begin a litigation process, an experienced lawyer takes the guesswork out of the matter by providing guidance along the way. Even though the costs of litigation may seem daunting, in the long run, you will probably save money because your chances of success increase dramatically with competent counsel.

Why Is Civil Law So Complicated?

It is not by design, despite what some might think. Unfortunately, over hundreds of years, dating back to Canada’s time as an English colony, certain traditions, rules, and institutions have entered and sometimes existed in our civil litigation process. This has resulted in a somewhat patchy procedural and substantive legal system which the Rules of Civil Procedure has attempted to bring some order to. However, these rules themselves have been fought over in the courts for so long, that they have become a labyrinth of subrules, exceptions, and conflicting judicial decisions. Further to that, the law is constantly evolving as new decisions reinterpret, change, or cause certain rules to be struck out entirely. However, with many years of study and practice, a skilled attorney starts to see the overall sense of this system.

Will Proceeding Without An Attorney Be Cheaper?

Probably not. In addition to trying to figure out the complicated rules of civil procedure, it will be very difficult to determine what, if any, additional damages you might be entitled to in civil litigation, or what you might owe if you are a defendant. For example, if you invested money with a business and they did not purchase the investment they were contracted to, you may be owed not just the investment amount, but also damages that flow from a breach of contract such as lost business opportunity. Another possibility is that a motion is brought against you. If you do not know how to properly defend or file the necessary paperwork, you may have to pay “legal costs.” These are the costs that you pay the opposing side for their lawyer if you lose a motion.

How Do I Gather And Present Evidence?

Like everything else in civil litigation, you must turn to the Rules of Civil Procedure. However, even more important is what evidence to present. Figuring out how to properly investigate, collect, and most important of all, determine relevant evidence presents a unique challenge. Litigation is full of statutory and common law rules that determine what pieces of evidence are relevant and/or otherwise acceptable at trial and which are not. This is often counterintuitive and individuals who are not trained in the law often risk getting a substantial amount of their evidence thrown out throughout the process. Further, there is a specific set of rules governing how the evidence is presented to the other side of the litigation.

What Is The Litigation Process?

Litigation is very unpredictable, and it is not always clear what the road to resolution will look like. However, the general road map, as laid out by the Rules of Civil Procedure, is as follows:

  1. A plaintiff (the party making the claim) files a Statement of Claim in the appropriate courthouse where they outline their grievance to the court. Once issued, the Statement of Claim will need to be served on the defendant (the party alleged to have caused the wrong) using a method accepted by the court;
  2. The defendant files their Statement of Defence where they outline why they should not be entirely or partially liable for the damages or remedies sought by the plaintiff. At this stage, other claims may also appear, such as third-party claims, counterclaims, crossclaims, etc.;
  3. The plaintiff is entitled to reply to the Statement of Defence and any other claims. Once this is done, or if the plaintiff chooses not to reply, the pleadings stage is closed;
  4. Now discoveries take place. This is the procedure where every party in the litigation discloses the documents that they will be relying on over the course of the litigation. The first stage of disclosure takes place through a document called the Affidavit of Documents. Each party is obligated to disclose everything that may be relevant to the litigation. Certain TV shows would have you believe that a key piece of evidence turns up in the middle of a trial and the case is resolved immediately based on that discovery. Nothing is further from the truth. Failure to disclose evidence ahead of time means it may be barred from being introduced in court, or could cause a lengthy adjournment, usually with costs being borne by the party who caused the delay. A detailed and complete examination of the documents is always the correct approach at this stage;
  5. The second stage of disclosure is the Examination for Discovery. Some people refer to it as a deposition. This allows the lawyers for each party to question the opposing side about the case to confirm verbal accounts, as well as any additional documents that might not have been disclosed in the Affidavit of Documents. While counsel are present in the room, they cannot speak for their clients and are limited to objecting to inappropriate questions or requests by the other side. After the Examination for Discovery, all parties take some time to disclose the requested documents to the other side;
  6. The final stage is setting the matter down for trial. This, in and of itself, is a multi-stage process as the matter needs to be case-managed and pre-tried. The trial is usually a very complex proceeding that often takes days, if not weeks, to complete.

Contact A Lawyer Today

At Empel Law Professional Corporation, our lawyers have over a decade of experience litigating even the most complex litigation cases. If you believe that you have a valid claim, or have been served with one, call 416-500-1937 to speak to a lawyer immediately.

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Arkadiusz J. Empel urodził się w Katowicah. Jako dziecko emigrował do Kanady, razem z rodziną, lecz wrócił jako student aby ukończyć Pracę Magisterską w Krakowie. Przez swoją pracę z polonią w okolicy Toronto utrzymał władność w swojim języku ojczystym. Jeżeli Państwo życzy się skonsultować prosto z adwokatem Polski, proszę przedzwonić na numer 416-500-1937.