Parties who have a potential civil claim on the horizon as either the plaintiff or defendant face a complex process to navigate in order to come to a positive resolution. Retaining a lawyer enables a litigant to properly assess the strengths of their case, and to take advantage of settlement at an earlier stage of the proceedings, which are benefits self-represented litigants do not always have access to.
Often an informal letter or phone call received from a law firm can prompt settlement discussions before litigation ensues. If an action is commenced, either in Provincial Court or in Queen’s Bench, the defendant has a chance to submit documents representing their position. If they do not do so, the plaintiff can obtain a default judgment which is as effective as a Judge’s order stating that plaintiff has won their case.
After each party submits their claim or defence, they then produce all documents in their possession that relate to the matter in issue. Oral discovery is scheduled and each party is subject to under oath questioning with the resulting transcript completing the discovery process. The parties are then ready to schedule trial. If the case is not exceedingly complex, the time between when you first attend in a lawyer’s office and the time of trial is approximately one and a half to two years.
If successful in your claim, the Judge will likely award you your costs of the claim pursuant to the Rules of Court. As trials are often expensive and unpredictable, every effort should be made to resolve a file at any point and before proceeding to trial.