Civil litigation describes
non-criminal matters to be handled in the Court. These civil conflicts are most
often brought on from business or personal disputes. There are several phases
of the civil litigation process: pleadings, discovery, trial, and if pursued an
litigation process begins in the pleadings, when the plaintiff issues their
complaint to the court, explaining how their party was in some manner harmed by
actions taken by the defendant. Another copy is delivered to the defendant, and
they are usually given a set amount of time to respond, referred to as the
answer, which is their side of the conflict. The civil litigation then proceeds
to the discovery phase, where both parties are gathering information that is
relevant to the case from each other or outside sources. This information is
collected through written questions, document requests, and depositions. Discovery
is the most lengthy phase of civil litigation, contingent on the specific
issues, the bulk of discovery to be administered, and the availability and
trial date to be set by the court. Once at the trial, both parties have
opportunities to produce evidence backing their defenses or claims to a judge
or a jury. The plaintiff and defendant may call upon witnesses to be questioned
and subsequently the other party may cross-examine the witnesses. After closing
arguments are given, the jury or judge will then deliberate and determine a
verdict or decision. If the defeated party is not satisfied with the outcome,
they may file an appeal, resulting in the case being reviewed by an appellate
court to determine if there was legal error in the previous court proceeding.
alternative approaches in dispute revolution besides civil litigation in court,
and can be more swift and less costly to resolve civil conflicts. These
alternatives include mediation and arbitration, both involving a neutral third
party to assist and potentially resolve civil disputes. Arbitration and
mediation are similar in that they are less formal and more abridged than a
trial. These two methods of conflict resolution differ in that mediator cannot
demand the parties to settle their dispute, while the arbitrators decide a
winner out of the two parties. In many cases, parties will agree to binding arbitration
where the losing party is forbidden from making an appeal to the court.
In some instances,
the courts will recommend parties of smaller disputes to consider arbitration.
I believe that the courts should obligate parties of a dispute to attempt
mediation before a full-blown trial. The process of mediation is can be favored
over a trial because it can save time, is much less costly, and is much more
private than the court system. Mediation is also less binding than arbitration
because both sides must agree to a settlement, or no agreement will be struck.
While mediation is much less likely to solve a dispute than arbitration, a
requirement of the process by courts would allow a greater number of parties to
settle outside of court.