Legal disputes can cause a great deal of stress. It is important to have the right lawyer working with you, doing their absolute best to create a favourable outcome for you.
At Michael O’Brien Lawyers we will make the litigation process as simple and stress free as possible.
When Does Litigation Begin?
As soon as someone formally initiates the legal process, litigation begins. The first step in this process generally involves hiring a lawyer, who will present the case in a way that produces the most favourable outcome, regardless of whether they are bringing or defending the claim.
Different kinds of lawyers are required depending on the form of litigation, which are commercial, civil and criminal. The process for criminal litigation works quite differently from the former two, as the case is against the State or Commonwealth. Otherwise, the principle of being represented by a lawyer working in your best interested is functionally identical.
What Happens After Hiring A Litigation Lawyer
After hiring a lawyer, investigation commences in order to gather as much information as possible regarding the case. Lawyers, as well as other involved parties, conduct extensive independent research into the facts of the case to prove that the harm was caused by the potential defendant and that the law provides for a remedy.
Negotiations follow investigation, intended to reduce the financial strain and inconvenience of formal lawsuits. It is common that the plaintiff requests more money than the defendant is expected to be willing to pay, while the defendant responds with an amount less than they may be willing to pay. Despite this, it is not uncommon for cases to be resolved in the negotiation stage as a more appropriate sum is reached by the two parties. Insurance companies in particular are heavy advocates for early resolutions of cases.
Another significant cost-reducing pre-suit stage of litigation is found in Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR for short. This is carried out in a few similar but different methods: mediation, facilitation and arbitration. Mediation and facilitation are typically informal processes, where each side presents their case to an independent attorney or panel of lawyers. The facilitator or mediator then proceeds to arrange a settlement they consider a reasonable amount to settle the matter, known as “putting a number” on a case. A fixed period of time follows, and if both parties accept within that period, the case is settled.
Arbitration is a more formal method of ADR, where the case is brought before a panel of lawyers rather than before a judge, as it would in an even more formal court case. While this is not without expense, it is considered a cheaper and smoother alternative due to a less convoluted set of rules. Arbitration can also occur in later phases of litigation, including mid-trial if the parties agree to shorten the case or limit the cost of the procedure.
Lawsuits are the most well known stage of litigation and occurs when the plaintiff files a complaint with the appropriate court and provides a copy to the defendant informing them of the imminent court case. The defendant responds with an answer, and the lawsuit commences. The litigation of a lawsuit is comprised into three stages of its own: discovery, trial and post-trial.
Discovery is the earliest stage of a lawsuit, where both the plaintiff and defendant trade information and evidence for their case. The lawyers exchange requests for interrogatories, documents and evidence, and admissions from the other party. Depositions are also included in the discovery stage, where parties and sometimes third-party witnesses are formally asked questions to gather evidence. These are all transcribed by a court recorder for later use of both parties.
Motion practice is another mechanism utilised by lawyers during the discovery period. They involve short arguments presented to the presiding judge in order to find a ruling on a disputed aspect of the case. Motions also include requests for extra time for discovery or for dispositive motions.
Dispositive motions are requests for the court to rule in the party’s favour without trial. They are complex, lengthy procedures as they must show that no possible developments in the facts provided can support any result other than the dismissal of the case. It is only when the law and the facts provided prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the case should be dismissed that a judge will follow through. Otherwise, courts prefer to have juries resolve cases whenever possible.
What Happens During A Litigation Trial?
Following the closure of the discovery stage, the trial period commences. The vast majority of litigation does not reach the trial stage at all, as they are expensive and often considered a gamble for both parties. In a trial, the case is presented to a trier of fact, typically a judge. Generally, the judge is expected to rule on any matters of law, assesses the facts and evidence to decide liability, as well as ensuring that the case is litigated in accordance with the rules of court.
Each side in a trial will present their case to the judge, with the plaintiff presenting their case first and the defendant following with their defenses against the allegations. Once both sides are satisfied with their presentations, they rest their case and closing arguments are made. The judge deliberates, decides on a verdict and the final decision is made.
Does Litigation End When The Trial Ends?
Litigation does not end when the trial does. While the legal matter is resolved, litigation is an ongoing process as there are further motions, orders and hearings to be made in order to correctly resolve a case. As well as this, there are often more negotiations to be made regarding monetary awardance, or alternatively, the losing party may not be satisfied with the final call and may wish to seek higher forms of court. The general length of the litigation process varies dramatically, and can resolve quickly or continue on for a number of years.
Why Choose Michael O’Brien Lawyers For Litigation Needs?
A high quality, professional and effective litigation lawyer is extremely necessary in ensuring that the litigation process is carried out competently. At Michael O’Brien Lawyers, we will guide you through all of the complex jargon and legal processes involved to achieve the best possible outcome for you.
With extensive litigation experience across a broad range of matters, we will always represent your best interests diligently.
Sometimes your best interests might be served by avoiding litigation as it can be a costly process. Our experience allows us to help you make informed decisions to ensure that the outcome provides enough benefit to outweigh the cost. We may be able to organisation mediation to resolve your dispute saving you both time and money.