We have extensively interacted with the term civil law in a number of our previous posts and established that it basically deals with what can be considered as a private dispute between parties, or what can be considered as an act of negligence that ends up causing harm to other parties. Civil cases can either involve an individual against another individual or an individual against a company. These types of case are usually heard in a civil court.
Usually, the case will either be resolved by a judge or a jury and this will always depend on how the facts of the case were presented vis-a-vishow the law applies to these facts. It’s mostly up to the lawyers to expertly present their arguments and convince the judge or jury to see things their way. During these cases, the parties involved in the case will be allowed to opt to resolve their dispute out of court even in the middle of court proceedings.
We take a look at the 6 main stages of most civil cases.
Stage 1: The pre-filing
At this stage it has been established that a dispute has arisen and the parties involved begin making their respective demands. The parties will also attempt to negotiate towards an amicable resolution and if this fails, then they will start making preparations for taking things to court.
Stage 2: Initial pleading
At this stage, one of the aggrieved parties has taken the dispute to court and gone through the process of filing the necessary papers to initiate the court action. The other party that is being sued is also required to submit their responses to the allegations made by the aggrieved party.
Stage 3: Discovery
At this stage, both parties are required to exchange information they have in their possession that is meant to act as evidence of wrongdoing or lack thereof. This stage makes it clear what the respective strengths and weaknesses of the case presented by both parties may be.
Stage 4: Pre-trial
At this stage, the parties involved in the case begin preparations for the trial by lining up their witnesses and collating all their evidence. In some cases, negotiations for a settlement may still be ongoing in the background.
Stage 5: Trial
At this stage, the parties present their arguments and counter arguments before a judge and/or jury, presenting their evidence and their witnesses. These cases may take a couple of days or even a couple of months and this is dependent on the complexity of the case. Depending on the arguments, evidence presented and the legal basis provided for in the law, the judge and/or jury will make a ruling on which party has carried the day and decide on what the punitive damages will be.
Stage 6: Post-trial
At this stage, either of the parties may opt to appeal the judgment if they felt dissatisfied with the ruling. If the party that won the trial is satisfied with the outcome, they will come to pick up the judgment.
It’s however worth noting that not all civil cases will go through all these stages, some have their own unique procedures.