Civil law is a body of rules and regulations that aid in resolving conflicts that are not criminal. The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC), is a procedural law governing the conduct of civil proceedings in India.
Civil litigation is the filing and subsequent application of a civil lawsuit that is implemented into a non-criminal dispute to aid in resolving the dispute. Here’s a guide on what is civil litigation and why it is crucial.
What is civil litigation?
So, what is civil litigation? Civil litigation is resolving civil disputes in a court of law. Civil matters involve people’s relationships, such as a marriage or a contract dispute between corporations. Civil cases, as opposed to criminal cases, involve an individual or business filing a lawsuit against another individual or company.
In civil proceedings, the standard of proof is less stringent than in criminal proceedings. Lawyers in civil cases must meet the preponderance of evidence standard to win their cases, which means they must simply present more convincing evidence to a judge or jury than their opponents.
In criminal trials, prosecutors must also present compelling evidence, but to prevail, they must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Types of civil litigation
After knowing what is civil litigation, let’s see what are the types of civil litigation.
The majority of legal cases handled fall under civil litigation. A dispute between a landlord and a tenant eventually led to court is an example of civil litigation. Here are some examples of common civil litigation cases.
Malpractice in medicine
Doctors and other medical professionals do their best to treat our illnesses and injuries, but they can occasionally make things worse. If this occurs, you have the right to sue for compensation for your medical expenses and other costs.
It is a very common type of civil litigation. If you got injured due to someone else’s negligence, hiring a personal injury lawyer is often the only way to ensure that the costs associated with the injury are covered.
When a marriage fails, many decisions must be made, including the division of assets and the arrangements for child custody. While it is often easier to figure out these details without pursuing litigation, it is not always possible.
Litigation over patents
When one party infringes on the patent or trademark of another party, the infringed party may file a lawsuit to enforce their patent rights and claim illegal use of their patent or trademark. These patents or trademarks may cover inventions, products, or software.
Essentially, if a party manufactures or sells the patent holder’s design without permission, the patent holder may sue and seek a financial settlement.
Litigation in the public interest
This type of litigation is a relatively new area of law. The courts bring these lawsuits to protect or maintain the well-being of a community. Any individual or corporate entity whose actions harm or impede societal progress may face legal consequences. Environmental issues, environmental law, and public health concerns frequently focus on this type of litigation.
Commercial and business litigation
Commercial and business litigation occurs when a dispute between individuals or business entities is brought before a court. Disagreements can arise at any level of interaction, and they can happen between partners, shareholders, business owners, competing companies, lenders, vendors, or anyone else.
Some examples of commercial litigation include breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, copyright infringement, fraud, trademark infringement, unfair competition, indemnity, defamation, and construction disputes.
Steps in a Civil Law Case
There are three phases in which a civil lawsuit proceeds –
- Institution Phase
- Trial Phase
- Judgment Phase
In the Institution Phase, there is-
- Institution of suit
- The issuance and service of summon
- Appearance of defendant
- Defendant’s written statement and set-off claims
- Rejoinder by Plaintiff in Replication
- Issue Framing
In the Trial Phase, there is –
- Plaintiff Evidence
- Cross-Examination of the Plaintiff’s Evidence
- Defendant Evidence
- Cross-Examination of Defendant’s Evidence
- Final Argument
In the Judgment Phase, there is –
- Review of the Decree
- Decree execution
A complaint or petition is the document that initiates a civil case. It explains the facts of the case, why the court has jurisdiction, and what the plaintiffs seek as redress for their grievance (e.g., money or an injunction).
Defendants are then served with a summons notifying them of the case against them and the date on which they must appear in court. In most cases, the defendant has 30 days to respond to the plaintiff’s allegations. Without a timely response, the defendant risks a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff.
At this point, the defendant has the option of filing a motion to dismiss. This motion requests that the case get dismissed because of a lack of jurisdiction or the plaintiff’s failure to state a valid legal claim, for example. Following the defendant’s response, either party may file a motion for summary judgment.
The typical civil trial procedure is as follows:
The trial stage: The stages of a civil court case are similar to those of a criminal case, but the burden of proof is different.
In a civil case, however, the plaintiff only needs to demonstrate that the defendant is more likely than not liable.
The plaintiff’s and defendant’s lawyers will make opening statements to the jury, outlining their client’s argument and summarising the evidence they will present at trial to substantiate it.
Evidence and cross-examination of evidence presented by Plaintiff: The plaintiff must present their evidence first unless the defendant accepts the plaintiff’s accusations but objects to the requested relief. The defence lawyer for the defendant will cross-examine the plaintiff. The plaintiff’s witnesses must appear in court and are subject to cross-examination by the defendant’s attorney.
Evidence and cross-examination of evidence presented by Defendant: Once the plaintiff has rested or has finished presenting evidence, the defence may follow suit. Following that, the plaintiff may cross-examine the defence witnesses.
Final Arguments: The lawyers for both sides will make closing statements to the jury, summarising their cases and attempting to persuade the jurors of their claims.
The Judgment / Decree: The court may deliver its decision the same day as the conclusion of the final arguments or postpone it until later.
Civil litigation can take years to resolve due to the numerous steps involved. If your case is typical, you and the other side will reach an agreement that allows you to avoid going to trial.
Role of a civil litigation lawyers
Civil litigation lawyers may incorporate a variety of tasks. Most people, for example, will be most familiar with them in the context of representing either the plaintiff or the defendant in court to ensure the best possible outcomes for their client under the circumstances. However, due to their obligations to their clients, civil litigation lawyers may also play other roles during the civil litigation process.
A good example would be the investigation that a civil litigation lawyer conducts to ensure that there is enough evidence to launch a civil lawsuit. Another example would be the submission of the various pleadings and motions required to initiate a civil lawsuit.
Now, you know what is civil litigation and the process involved in it. It is the legal process used to resolve non-criminal disputes. And the process involved in civil litigation is complex to be understood by a common person. So, it’s always good to consult a civil litigation lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the law and thus can help you to get the best result in your interest.