Litigation is the process of resolving a dispute between two or more persons or companies in a court of law with a judge or jury. Litigation begins when a party decides to act on his or her legal right(s) and ends when the dispute is resolved. The litigation process is dictated by highly defined court rules, procedures, practice directions, and professional guidelines. The main steps involved in a lawsuit includes the following:
The Demand Letter
Typically, the first step in litigation involves writing a letter to the opposing side that outlines all of a person’s demands. Its purpose is to request that the opposing person satisfy all outstanding debts and pay funds so that further legal action is not required.
The Lawsuit – Called Statement of Claim
In the event that the opposing person does not respond or comply with the demand letter, the next step involves drafting a lawsuit or a defence to that lawsuit, which is also known as the “pleading” as you are pleading your case. The lawsuit and defence outline each person’s story of how the dispute arose, what the judge or jury should conclude, and the legal argument as to why that conclusion should be made.
An alternative course of action is called an application and occurs when you apply to the court for a date to argue the matter. This usually happens if the case is not complicated and there is no need for a trial. An application looks very similar to a lawsuit. The main difference is that the date to argue the matter is added to the Notice of Application.
The next step, and arguably the most time-consuming step, involves gathering evidence, and is also known as the discovery process. During this step each party is expected to gather all evidence including documents, digital files, and photos, etc., and will exchange it with the opposing person. Each person is also provided with the opportunity to conduct an interview of the opposing person under oath.
Motions are like a lawsuit in a lawsuit. Motions are a formal request to a judge or a master, who has some but not all of the power of a judge. Motions take place in front of or without the other person. Parties also have the ability to consent or oppose the motion and present their opinion on why the requested relief should or should not be granted. Legal costs are usually ordered when motions are argued.
In many cases, the court requires that parties participate in a mandatory form of mediation, also known as pre-trial. During this mediation, parties have the opportunity to present their case in front of a judge and will receive feedback from that judge on the strengths and weaknesses of their case. Parties may also engage in settlement discussions in an attempt to resolve their case. If they do not agree on settlement, the case will proceed to trial in front of a different judge than the one that participated in the pre-trial. Some areas of Ontario, such as Toronto requires mediation with a private mediator to be completed before mediating with a judge.
Trial is a step where each party presents their case in front of a judge and, at the end of the trial, a decision is made in one party’s favour.
Walker Law provides litigation assistance with various facets of civil litigation including contract disputes, defamation, employment law, franchise law, negligence, and real property disputes. Walker Law has been retained to represent clients at various stages of the dispute resolution process and has demonstrated its expertise having been successful in various levels of courts and Tribunals.
At Walker Law, our legal services are highly driven by applying negotiation tactics in attempt to resolve client disputes and to avoid the time and cost associated with litigation. Our staff is dynamic and highly responsive to clients needs. We are proud of our well-established reputation for being knowledgeable, professional, expedient, and for providing stellar customer service that tends to exceed client expectations.
The firm’s Owner and Managing Partner, Tanya Walker is certified by the Law Society of Ontario as a specialist in Civil Litigation. The Certified Specialist Program recognizes members of the Law Society who are leaders in the field of litigation, obtain at least seven years of experience, and have a mastery of substantive law in practice and procedure.