The Basics of Civil Litigation

Civil litigation is a court case where one person or entity (the plaintiff) is disputing with another person or company (the defendant). The dispute may involve monetary compensation.

Attorneys often enlist expert witnesses to validate arguments or explain technical information. After the discovery process, parties can 성범죄변호사 file motions to request the judge to take action.


The first step in any civil lawsuit is to file a complaint with the court. This document sets out the plaintiff’s version of events, states a legal theory under which the case is being brought (such as negligence), and asks that the court grant certain relief such as compensation for damages or an injunction.

Once the complaint is filed, the defendant has a set amount of time in which to respond to it. Typically, this response takes the form of a demurrer to the complaint which alleges some reason why the complaint should not be heard by the court.

As with any type of litigation, there are opportunities for parties to engage in gamesmanship that can drive up the costs of the case. For example, it is possible to withhold documents from the other party which could result in that party having to pay for costly discovery expenses if they are forced to communicate that deficiency to the other side and then appear at a Court hearing to rectify the issue. Ultimately, this type of gamesmanship is one of the reasons that civil cases are so expensive.


The first formal documents submitted to a court at the beginning of a lawsuit are called pleadings. These document submissions state the basic positions of both parties in a case, and include the complaint and summons.

The complaint sets out the plaintiff’s version of the facts, specifies damages and frames the issues of the case. The summons formally notifies the defendant of the lawsuit and provides the deadline for his or her response.

A counterclaim is a statement by the defendant against the plaintiff’s cause of action, or, alternatively, a crossclaim is a claim made against another party in the lawsuit. A reply is a way for any party to respond to new allegations in other pleadings such as a counterclaim or crossclaim.

If you are considering filing a civil suit, it is important to meet with an experienced legal representative as soon as possible to ensure that your case falls within the statute of limitations and that you are submitting all required pleadings. An open and honest consultation will help your attorney plan for future steps in the litigation process.


The discovery stage is when the legal teams of both sides learn more about each other’s case. During this time, parties can request documents, physical evidence and witness testimony. This information enables both sides to explore the strengths and weaknesses of each other’s argument before trial, leading many cases to settle before they go to court.

A judge will typically lay out a “scheduling order” early on in the discovery process, listing deadlines and important dates relating to the lawsuit. The scheduling order will include details of what discovery tools are available to the parties, including requests for documents and inspection of physical property or electronically stored information (ESI). Parties can also ask other people to testify about facts in the case through written questions called interrogatories or orally in depositions. Parties can also ask for certain facts to be admitted as true by the other side in a process called requests for admissions.

Some types of information are protected from discovery, such as confidential guidance from a lawyer or conversations between spouses. In addition, some statements made during discovery are considered privileged and cannot be introduced in court.


The Trial stage of a civil lawsuit is when the case actually goes to court. This can involve a judge or a jury and can last for a couple of hours or a couple of months, depending on the case’s complexity. Often, attorneys can reach an agreement to settle the case during this phase, which saves both parties time, frustration, and money.

During the Trial stage, each party presents its key evidence and arguments to the judge or jury. Each side may call witnesses and present other types of evidence, including documents or photographs. The plaintiff and defendant also have the right to cross-examine each other’s witnesses.

After hearing evidence from each side, the judge decides which party wins the case based on a legal standard known as “preponderance of the evidence.” The judge also instructs the jury on the relevant law, describes various kinds of damages (e.g., compensation for financial or non-financial losses), and decides how the jury should evaluate the evidence. The jury then votes on the case and enters a judgment.


After a trial, a judge or jury decides the case and issues a judgment. The decision may be modified or enforced through further proceedings. If either party is unhappy with the result, they can appeal.

Civil cases can be about almost anything – damage to property, contract disputes, injuries to people, credit card or other debt, and even work-related disputes. This guide will focus on the most common reasons people go to civil court, such as a dispute over property or an injury caused by another person or business.

The process of a civil lawsuit starts when one person or business (the “Plaintiff”) files a complaint with the court and serves a copy to the defendant. The complaint describes the harm or loss, explains why the plaintiff believes the defendant is responsible, and asks for relief from the court. Relief might be money to compensate the plaintiff for their damages, an injunction ordering the defendant to do or not do something, or a declaratory judgment that establishes the legal rights of the parties.

Sometimes, the case might settle before trial through a pretrial hearing or a settlement between the parties. There are also other ways to resolve a case, including through a motion filed by the judge or a request for a new trial by the plaintiff or defendant.