What is Civil Litigation?

24 May 2023
Civil litigation refers to the process of resolving a non-criminal legal dispute between two or more parties, whether they be individuals or organisations, through the court system. As they are non-criminal cases, the police do not need to perform an investigation.
Image civil litigation
It’s a broad area of the law that can include a varied range of issues, from breach of contract or personal injury, to property or employment disputes, divorce and probate, and various other disputes. The goal of this process is to obtain a legal remedy, usually in the form of financial compensation.

These disputes usually fall into two categories:
  1. Contract disputes relate to a disagreement between two parties e.g. when one party fails to fulfil their contractual obligations
  2. Civil wrong disputes relate to actions against one party to another, sometimes deliberately and other times in the form of negligence, such as when someone is injured
The purpose of civil litigation is to resolve disputes when other methods have failed. It ensures that people or organisations are held accountable when violating the law, preventing or reducing the chances of similar behaviour in the future.

How Does Civil Litigation Work?

Protocol differs depending on the type of case, but there are Civil Procedure Rules which provide instructions on how to deal with such matters. Usually the civil litigation process begins when one party files a complaint with the court against another party. They are referred to as the claimant, previously known as the plaintiff. This complaint will outline the legal basis for the lawsuit and the relief sought. Both parties will be given the opportunity to exchange information regarding their positions in an attempt to solve the issue between them. Court proceedings are usually a last resort. 

The timeline for civil litigation cases varies but all parties should act quickly to minimise the total costs. If the claimant wins the case, the court may order the defendant to pay damages or grant an injunction. On the other hand, if the defendant wins, the case will be dismissed and the claimant will not receive compensation. The decision may be appealed by either party, but this extends the litigation process further. 

What is an Injunction?

If an injunction is granted, this means that one party must take specific action, or stop engaging in a particular behaviour. An example of an injunction is a restraining order, whereby one party would be required to stay a certain distance away from the claimant and refrain from communication with them. Injunctions are usually granted to prevent further harm from happening to the claimant and can be permanent or temporary, depending on the case. If the injunction is ignored, there are legal ramifications such as fines or even imprisonment. 

Preparing for Civil Litigation 

As these cases vary from case to case, it’s very important to seek the advice of a professional civil litigation solicitor who is competent in seeking resolution and providing advice. It can be a complicated and challenging process, so it’s essential to have an experienced solicitor on your side who understands the legal system.

You will also need to gather sufficient evidence, as this can determine the success of the case. Be sure to gather all relevant documents, photos and other evidence that can support your case. Effective communication with your solicitor and all other parties involved is also pivotal, so be sure to keep everyone involved to any new developments in the case and be responsive to requests. 

Funding a Civil Litigation Case

Whether you’re opening or defending a case, you may feel overwhelmed by the costs involved with civil litigation. Usually the most straightforward option is to fund your own case, but it may not be feasible. If you do not have pre-existing legal expenses insurance, you may be able to obtain “After the Event” legal expense insurance cover in the event that your claim is unsuccessful. 

Please do get in touch at your earliest convenience if you wish to speak to one of our civil litigation specialists in Colchester.