Civil Litigation Lawyer
Civil litigation, or simply litigation, is the process of applying to a Court for specified relief, usually based on what a third party has done or failed to do. Civil litigation usually refers to any Court adjudication of a dispute other than in the areas of criminal law or family law and typically does not include administrative law which deals with the rendering of decisions by specialized tribunals.
There are numerous levels of Courts for each province or territory and for Canada as a whole based on the division of powers contained in The Constitution Act (previously The British North America Act). Aside from distinguishing by Federal or Provincial responsibility, various levels of courts are mandated for certain issues. Choosing an incorrect court may be fatal to a particular cause of action or may have cost consequences for proceeding in the wrong court or level of court.
Civil litigation comprises a broad range of disputes, some of which include the following:
- suing for moneys lent but not repaid;
- suing for monies owing for unpaid goods and services and/or return of the goods;
- a mortgage lender suing for possession of mortgaged lands and payment of the unpaid mortgage amount together with costs and interest;
- damages for personal injuries arising out of automobile or other accident based on the negligence of a driver or other third party;
- damages for personal injuries arising out of an accident due to unsafe premises based on negligence;
- damages based on defamation, slander and/or libel and/or an order prohibiting further such defamation;
- a construction lien action against the owner of a property for goods or services not paid for by his/her or its general contractor or subcontractors;
- a breach of trust action under The Ontario Construction Lien Act by an unpaid material supplier or subcontractor based on fraud where a general contractor or subcontractor pays itself prior to paying material suppliers, sub- trades, or its employees;
- whether various levels of government tax have been properly assessed against a taxpayer including income tax, GST and HST, source deductions (employee tax deductions) and other specific product or sector specific taxes;
- a commercial landlord suing for the remainder of rent under a lease and a declaration of rights as between the tenant and the landlord;
- a residential tenancy dispute over the right of occupancy to a residential housing unit, repairs to be made to the unit and the proper amount of the rent to be charged, and the collection of outstanding rent;
- a lawsuit for failing to complete the purchase of residential or commercial real estate;
- wrongful dismissal of an employee by an non-unionized employer;
- patent infringement, trademark infringement or copyright infringement;
- whether a debt survives the bankruptcy of a bankrupt based on fraud;
- breach of trust;
- the civil liability for theft (called conversion); and
- challenging the validity of a last will and testament based on lack of testamentary capacity or undue influence.
Applying to court for relief with respect to a civil matter is usually governed by one (1) or more deadlines, usually referred to as limitation periods. It is important that with respect to any given Claim that you speak to a lawyer as soon as possible so that the relevant limitation periods do not expire while you are considering your options, negotiating with the opposing party, providing an indulgence, etc. A lawyer will advise you as to these deadlines and provide a plan of action that allows you to preserve your rights while still attempting to settle a civil dispute without full-blown litigation.
A commercial dispute also creates its unique challenges and the causes of action and types of relief are not always obvious. Further, initiating civil litigation often triggers a counterclaim which is best considered before proceedings are initiated if at all possible. Speaking to a lawyer promptly once a problem has arisen may revel rights and strategies which may otherwise disappear. Please feel free to contact us for an assessment of the likelihood of success of your civil litigation matter, applicable deadlines, procedures and likely cost for same.
At Kozlowski & Company we appreciate and encourage our clients to be well informed about any court case they are involved in. Accordingly, we have provided the following additional information as background, together with a number of useful links to third-party resources for additional reading. Please feel free to review these materials and contact us with any questions you may have about the substantive law applicable to your issue, the court procedures applicable, or both.