There are many different types of law, but the two main branches are criminal law and civil law. Criminal law involves misdemeanor and felony charges with penalties issued to those convicted. Civil law is different – instead of jail sentences, the plaintiff and defendant are in dispute, and the resolution generally involves financial remuneration or specific performance.
Litigation involves taking legal action and settling a dispute in a courtroom. It may occur in front of a judge or a jury and a judge. Civil litigation refers to a business or individual taking legal action against another business or individual. It differs from criminal litigation, which refers to local, state or federal government taking legal action against an individual or company.
Examples of civil litigation
There are various types of disputes that fall under civil litigation. Some examples include:
- Employment disputes: An employee may believe their employer unfairly dismissed them.
- Personal injury cases: The victim seeks damages for causing physical or mental injury.
- Divorce: Couples most often litigate issues surrounding the division of assets or custody of the children.
- Tenant disputes: The tenant and landlord dispute the enforcement of their contract.
- Intellectual property disputes: A company may seek to prevent others from copying or using content or a product they own.
How to prepare for litigation
Each case is different, and working closely with an attorney is essential. Preparation starts with gathering all available information that can support your argument. It is also critical that you do not destroy, alter or create documents or other evidence.
It is important to refrain from communicating with the other party in any way. Unless legal representation advises otherwise, all communications should be between each side’s attorneys. Businesses involved in civil litigation should continue daily operations like normal and not allow the legal case to have a negative effect.
Litigation may be the best option
Most civil cases do not make it to court, but each side should prepare for court as they gather information and build their case. Negotiation is common, and settlements often occur during the pre-trail phase or even during the trial when it becomes clear one side has the upper hand.
Many believe it is best to avoid litigation because it is expensive, takes more time and is stressful, but litigation is sometimes the best option for settling a matter once and for all. A willingness to litigate also sets a forceful precedent to others that the client is not afraid to take the issue to court when necessary.