A civil court dispute involves proceedings (litigation) between opposing parties which may include individuals, corporations, government or other entities.
A civil court case generally concerns a dispute about the rights or liabilities of the parties involved, with one party seeking a court ordered remedy against the other party or parties. The remedy may be in the form of monetary compensation for damages or loss suffered, an injunction (an order preventing a party from doing something), or a range of other discretionary orders such as for the sale of property and its proceeds distributed in a specific manner.
Court proceedings are commenced by the aggrieved party (the plaintiff) filing a summons or application in the relevant jurisdiction, identifying the party against whom a remedy is sought (the defendant). The claim usually includes a statement of facts summarising the circumstances of the case, identifies the wrongdoing or area of law breached and states the remedy sought.
The defendant is ‘served’ with the claim and is required to respond within a specified time. The type of response filed is determined by the relevant circumstances and how the defendant wishes to answer the claim.
If the matter is not settled by negotiation or through an alternative dispute resolution method such as mediation or conciliation, it is set down for hearing and determined by the Court.
Types of disputes
The type of civil disputes that may come before a court are many and varied. Examples include:
- Contractual disputes including breach of contract, failure to perform or complete a contract or breach of essential conditions and warranties
- Consumer claims such as unfair contracts, misrepresentation, unconscionable conduct, undue influence and fraud
- Property co-ownership disputes, boundary and easement disputes and equitable claims such as resulting and constructive trusts
- Commercial and retail leasing disputes
- Partnership disputes and dissolution of partnership
- Intellectual property disputes such as copyright and trade mark infringement
- Debt recovery, insolvency and bankruptcy
- Property damage claims
- Personal injury claims
- Medical negligence claims
- Motor vehicle accident claims
- Professional negligence claims
- Defamation proceedings
- Disputed estates and contested wills
- Building and construction disputes
The litigation process requires significant preparation and involves compliance with various court formalities and evidentiary technicalities. Court disputes can be very expensive and emotionally draining. Consequently, the decision to commence proceedings should be carefully considered and weighed against the likelihood of success and, if successful, the feasibility of enforcing the Court orders.
Wherever possible, we will attempt to resolve a dispute through alternative means such as negotiation, mediation or conciliation. If this does not resolve a client’s matter and, only after carefully assessing their circumstances, will we recommend litigation and vigorously pursue their case.