Civil litigation describesnon-criminal matters to be handled in the Court. These civil conflicts are mostoften brought on from business or personal disputes. There are several phasesof the civil litigation process: pleadings, discovery, trial, and if pursued anappeal.
The civillitigation process begins in the pleadings, when the plaintiff issues theircomplaint to the court, explaining how their party was in some manner harmed byactions taken by the defendant. Another copy is delivered to the defendant, andthey are usually given a set amount of time to respond, referred to as theanswer, which is their side of the conflict. The civil litigation then proceedsto the discovery phase, where both parties are gathering information that isrelevant to the case from each other or outside sources. This information iscollected through written questions, document requests, and depositions.
Discoveryis the most lengthy phase of civil litigation, contingent on the specificissues, the bulk of discovery to be administered, and the availability andtrial date to be set by the court. Once at the trial, both parties haveopportunities to produce evidence backing their defenses or claims to a judgeor a jury. The plaintiff and defendant may call upon witnesses to be questionedand subsequently the other party may cross-examine the witnesses.
After closingarguments are given, the jury or judge will then deliberate and determine averdict 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 appellatecourt to determine if there was legal error in the previous court proceeding. There arealternative approaches in dispute revolution besides civil litigation in court,and can be more swift and less costly to resolve civil conflicts. Thesealternatives include mediation and arbitration, both involving a neutral thirdparty to assist and potentially resolve civil disputes. Arbitration andmediation are similar in that they are less formal and more abridged than atrial.
These two methods of conflict resolution differ in that mediator cannotdemand the parties to settle their dispute, while the arbitrators decide awinner out of the two parties. In many cases, parties will agree to binding arbitrationwhere 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 attemptmediation before a full-blown trial. The process of mediation is can be favoredover a trial because it can save time, is much less costly, and is much moreprivate than the court system.
Mediation is also less binding than arbitrationbecause 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, arequirement of the process by courts would allow a greater number of parties tosettle outside of court.