financenational economy

What is Litigation and How its Used in Court


The process of resolving conflicts through the court system is known as litigation. Several legal areas, including real estate, civil rights, and personal injury, use it.

Louis Tompros, a WilmerHale partner and Harvard Law School lecturer, says that litigation is a means to use the court’s authority to force someone to respect your rights and to correct the situation if they have not been respecting them.

Two Main Types of Litigation

In general, there are two types of litigation: criminal and civil litigation.

Criminal Litigation is the procedure through which the government files charges against a person is known as the prosecution. A state district attorney will ask the court to impose a penalty on someone who has committed a felony, or other criminal offense.

In civil litigation, the government typically stays out of it. Rather, a person or organization (referred to as the “plaintiff”) will file a lawsuit against a different person or organization (referred to as the “defendant”). Using the legal system to enforce your rights is known as civil litigation.

Litigation process.

Stages of Litigation

Litigation typically involves three stages.

  • The first stage is when the plaintiff, sometimes called the initiating party, files the complaint. The complaint will explain what the plaintiff alleges the defendant did wrong, as well as the requested compensation or remedy for the situation. Often, there is a disagreement as to whether or not the case is valid, and sometimes the defendant will countersue the plaintiff.
  • Discovery is the second phase of litigation. This is when both sides will research and exchange information regarding the dispute. This is typically the longest and most costly since it requires significant time from both parties to gather personal testimonies, tangible evidence, exchange information, and perform other duties.
  • The trial phase is the last and third stage of litigation. When most people hear the word litigation, they picture this. Not every litigation will, however, proceed to this stage of the procedure. This only happens in the event that there is no pre-trial agreement between the parties.

The Lifespan of Litigation

The victorious party will receive a “judgment” at the end of the process, which will serve as the lawsuit is final ruling. This can occasionally be expressed as a monetary award, with the winning party being obliged to pay a specific sum. Another option is to issue an order prohibiting the losing party from taking any specific action. Sometimes, the decision will take into account both.

There will be significant variation in the duration of this process. Civil litigation can take longer than ten years to resolve, despite the fact that simpler and cooperative disputes can be resolved more quickly. On the other hand, criminal cases move much faster and are often resolved within a year.

Particularly in civil cases, the entire litigation process is frequently not followed. Due to the lengthy and difficult nature of the process, it is common for both parties to come to an agreement to resolve the disagreement before going to the last stage.

Appeals After Litigation

Trial courts in the United States make the final decision in a lawsuit at its inception. The court of appeals will then examine the trial and search for mistakes in the event that a party files an appeal against the case’s verdict. However, appeals courts will not be looking to relitigate the case.

It is possible to file an appeal in both civil and criminal cases. If someone is found guilty in a criminal trial and feels that something unfair occurred during the trial, they may want to appeal their conviction. If a civil case proceeds to trial and judgment, the party that did not obtain a favorable judgment would also file an appeal if it feels that the trial court erred in some way. Parties have the right to one level of appeal automatically. Further appeals are up to the discretion of the court.

Reasons to Litigate

The main goal of civil litigation is to compel a party to compensate another party for harm they have caused, either financially or through other means. This kind of legal action could be a class action lawsuit, personal injury lawsuit, or another kind where there were reasonable damages sustained and they needed to be paid.

For example, if you are hit by a car, you may have significant medical costs in addition to your pain and suffering. In this case, you have the option to sue for damages.

Litigation may be utilized in cases such as patent infringement or real estate disputes if the objective is to modify the behavior of the other party instead of obtaining monetary compensation.

There are additional reasons not to bring legal action. Two primary disincentives for parties to file a lawsuit are the time and money involved.

Defendants in criminal cases have the right to public defender representation; no such right exists in civil cases. As a result, they will have to pay for legal counsel out of pocket, and there is very little chance that they will get their money back.

Alternatives to Civil Litigation

Mediation and arbitration are the two most common alternatives to civil litigation.

A third-party, unbiased mediator helps determine the best way to resolve a conflict by offering advice. To help them come to a decision as a group, the two parties will select and pay a mediator. Usually, this will include who is responsible for paying, how much they must pay, and any other kind of settlement.

Contrarily, the procedure used in arbitration is more like that in litigation. The parties will appoint a neutral arbiter or panel of arbiters in lieu of a judge and jury. This individual will determine the outcome of a dispute.

The rulings in arbitration are binding and enforceable, unlike in mediation or court. If you decide to sign up for the course, be sure you are okay with giving up that legal right because you cannot appeal these.

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