The Four Stages of Civil Litigation
BC Civil Litigation, The Lawsuit Process
What Litigation Means
In non-legalese, litigation translates into lawsuits. Lawyers that are litigators file documentation, review evidence, conduct discoveries, negotiate and ultimately appear in court and argue on behalf of their clients.
Although the types of litigation can be varied (including estate litigation, divorce litigation, business litigation, and personal injury litigation), and each specific areas have specific rules, there are a number of common steps in the civil litigation process.
Common Steps in the Civil Litigation Process
There are 4 key steps involved in the vast majority of litigation cases in Vancouver BC and in Canada. This post will outline them for you. If you are being sued in Vancouver BC or believe that you have a claim that may result in a lawsuit, we strongly recommend that you consult with one of our Vancouver lawyers to discuss your options.
Stage 1: The Pleadings
- The first stage in the litigation process is the pleading stage. Pleadings are critical and it is important that they are drafted clearly and carefully as they set out your case for both the Court and the other side. Carefully worded pleadings can save from ambiguity later on the process.
- In civil litigation, the Plaintiff will file a Notice of Civil Claim and the Defendant will respond with a Reply to Civil Claim and potentially a Counter-Claim. This will allow all parties including the Court to understand the basis of the claim.
Stage 2: Documents and Discovery
- After the end of the pleading period, both parties are required to exchange a List of Documents; there are official court documents that set out the name and describe the documentary evidence that each side plans to rely on.
- Lawyers will usually request copies of all of the documents and review them prior to an examination for discovery.
Stage 3: Pre-Trial Applications & Conferences
- Before a matter proceeds to a full hearing or trial, there are often a number of pre-trial applications.
- These are typically contested appearances before a judge where parties may request the additional production of documents or the right to examine witnesses.
- The Supreme Court Civil Rules also require a pre-trial conference to make sure that the parties are ready to proceed and at the conference Judge can make orders as to how the trial will be conducted.
Stage 4: Trial or Settlement
- Once all of the first three stages have been completed, a case will be ready for trial.
- Trial can be expensive and costly and most lawyers will advise clients to consider an out of court settlement.
- Settlements can be negotiated by lawyers directly or with the help of a mediator.
- Settlement Conferences and mediations are useful tools for all parties to realistically assess the strengths and weaknesses of their cases and determine what might be a fair outcome without the uncertainty of trial.
Vancouver Civil Litigation Lawyers
The Kushner Law Group has extensive experience representing individuals and small businesses in civil litigation, mediation, negotiations, Small Claims Court, Provincial Court, Supreme Court as well as before administrative and regulatory tribunals.