Josephson Litigation Counsel

Business Dispute Resolution Through The Litigation Process

Thousands of business disputes arise each year in the province. Many are resolved out of court through direct negotiation or alternative methods. Others require stronger measures - one of which is litigation. Unlike portrayals in popular media, a lawsuit is not a quick, one-time dramatic appearance in court. It is a multi-step process that takes time - typically over a year from start to finish. Yet, resolving a lawsuit need not necessarily take parties through every stage.

The Various Steps Of Litigation

In British Columbia, litigation proceeds along a continuum of successive steps, including the following:

  1. Pleadings - in which the plaintiff files a written notice of the grievance and the defendant responds with his or her side of the story.
  2. Discovery of Documents -- in which both sides disclose information relevant to the case and have the opportunity to examine each other's documentation.
  3. Examinations for Discovery- in which each side tells its story, now under oath before a court reporter and cross-examined by opposing lawyers. This allows each party to learn the strengths and weaknesses of their case. Many parties are able to reach a compromise and end the dispute at this stage.
  4. Interlocutory Applications - in which any interested party may apply to the Court during the course of the litigation for an order involving such issues as the failure of one side to provide appropriate disclosure of evidence or documentation.
  5. Summary Trial - not the actual trial, but a hearing before a Judge based on Affidavit material. This procedure is used in an attempt to produce an early resolution of the dispute based on, inter alia, uncontroverted factual evidence disclosed through the discovery thus far.
  6. Witnesses - the lawyers will prepare for Trial by gathering and interviewing witnesses, both lay people and experts such as forensic accountants and appraisers.
  7. Legal Submissions - in which the lawyers spend time researching the relevant case law and preparing their legal arguments and submissions for presentation to the judge at trial.
  8. Trial Preparation - in which, during the month before trial, the lawyers prepare the various witnesses to testify and respond to cross-examination in court.
  9. Trial - The last stage of litigation in which the actual case is fought in court before the judge.

Once a trial has been heard, the judge may consider the lawyers' submissions and the law on point for months before rendering a decision. But in the vast majority of cases, disputing parties recognize the financial and legal risks associated with proceeding all the way to Trial. Many come to an earlier settlement - even in the last minutes, hours and days just before the scheduled trial.

Businesses are wise to consult with an experienced litigation lawyer to find an optimal strategy to end disputes in a manner that is as efficient and cost-effective as possible.

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