One of the processes a lawyer may recommend to resolve a dispute is called ‘litigation’. Often, our clients will ask what that even means?

The short answer is that litigation means going to Court. However, the answer is not that simple – litigation is the whole process of resolving disputes or conflicts through the legal system, typically in Provincial or Supreme Court. The litigation process has a defined set of rules and steps that all of the parties use to get to the desired goal – resolution of their dispute.

Litigation involves two or more parties, often referred to as plaintiffs or claimants (those who initiate the legal action) and defendants (those who are being sued or accused). The primary goal of litigation is to seek a legal remedy or resolution to a disagreement or legal issue.

The process of litigation typically involves several key stages:

Pleadings: this is the initial phase where the parties involved file their legal documents and outline their respective positions and the issues in dispute.

Discovery: during this stage both parties gather evidence to support their claims or defenses. This can involve examinations for discovery (sworn evidence given out of court), requests and production of documents and other methods of gathering information.

Pretrial proceedings: before the trial there are often various pretrial applications hearings and conferences, where the parties deal with specific administrative issues or attempt to settle or resolve their dispute (usually through a formal mediation process) without going to trial.

Trial: if the dispute could not be resolved through settlement or pretrial applications, the case proceeds to trial. During the trial, both parties present their evidence and arguments to a judge or jury, who then makes a final decision on the matter.

Judgment: after the trial a Judgment or Order is issued. This can result in various outcomes including a finding of fact, a monetary award or a dismissal of the case.

Appeal: if one party feels that the judge made an error in law or in fact when making their Judgment or Order, they may have the right to appeal to a higher Court, seeking a review of the Trial Judge’s decision.

Litigation can encompass a wide range of legal issues, including civil matters such as contract disputes, personal injury claims, family law cases and more. Additionally, it can also involve criminal proceedings, where the government (Crown Counsel) prosecutes individuals accused of committing crimes.

The litigation process can be complex and lengthy, and it often requires the involvement of legal professionals, including lawyers, judges, and sometimes juries, to ensure a fair and just resolution to the dispute.

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