Sydun & Co Solicitors

Dealing with Civil Disputes: Everything You Need to Know

In Australia, civil disputes can arise in a variety of contexts, from contractual disputes between individuals and businesses to disputes over property rights, personal injury claims, and more.

Regardless of the nature of the dispute, there are various steps you can take to resolve civil disputes in a fair and efficient manner. However, civil disputes can be complex and might involve civil litigation. Therefore, hiring an experienced civil litigation lawyer is the best approach to achieving the optimal outcome.

In this blog post, we’ll outline the critical steps involved in dealing with civil disputes in Australia.

But before highlighting the process, let’s first go through the basics.

What is Civil Litigation?

Civil litigation in Australia within NSW can be defined as a legal process in which two or more parties, usually individuals, businesses, or organisations, engage in a dispute over a legal issue. This process involves a civil lawsuit being filed in court or tribunal, where one party seeks relief by asking for specific orders, an account of profits or damages from another party.

Consulting a civil lawyer in Sydney can help you navigate through the difficult scenarios of civil litigation.

Civil Disputes vs. Civil Litigation

  • Civil disputes refer to any disagreement or conflict that arises between two or more parties and can include a wide range of issues such as statutory breaches, contracts, property disputes, personal injury claims and other tortious claims such as defamation, injurious falsehood, nuisance, debt collection disputes, and more.
  • A civil dispute may be resolved through negotiation, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution methods, without resorting to litigation. An experienced civil litigation lawyer will often initially recommend resolving civil disputes without approaching the court unless the matter is urgent and requires swift interlocutory relief such as an injunction.
  • Civil litigation, on the other hand, is a legal process that involves taking a dispute to court or tribunal to seek resolution through a judge, tribunal member or jury.
  • It is typically initiated by one party, who files a complaint in court outlining the basis of their claim and the relief they seek. The defendant then responds by filing an answer or a counterclaim. The parties then engage in discovery, pre-trial proceedings, and a trial, in which evidence is presented, and a decision is made by the judge, tribunal member or jury.
  • Civil litigation is often more time-consuming, expensive, and uncertain than alternative methods of dispute resolution. A commercial lawyer generally recommends pursuing litigation as a last resort when all other attempts to resolve the dispute have failed unless the matter is urgent and requires swift interlocutory relief such as an injunction.

What does a civil litigation lawyer do?

A civil litigation lawyer is a legal professional who specialises in handling civil disputes between individuals, organisations, and businesses.

Some of the fundamental responsibilities of a civil litigation lawyer include the following:

  • Advising clients: A civil litigation lawyer will advise their clients on the merits of their case, explain the legal processes involved, and provide guidance on the best course of action.
  • Conducting research: Lawyers will conduct research to understand the legal issues involved in the case including a review of relevant case law, identify relevant laws and regulations, and gather evidence to support their client’s position.
  • Preparing a brief to a barrister: to provide advice and or appear in the proceedings.
  • Drafting legal documents: A civil lawyer Sydney will draft legal documents such as initiating applications, summons or statements of claim, pleadings, motions, and briefs, which are filed with the court and used to present the client’s case.
  • Representing clients in court: Lawyers will represent their clients in court proceedings, which include hearings, trials, and appeals. Moreover, they will argue their client’s case, cross-examine witnesses, and present evidence.
  • Negotiating settlements: A commercial lawyer will also attempt to negotiate settlements outside of court, which can help to resolve the dispute quickly and at a lower cost.
  • Managing the litigation process: Lawyers will manage the overall litigation process, including preparing for court appearances, responding to discovery requests, and subpoenas and complying with court rules and deadlines.

Therefore, if you’re involved in a civil dispute, a civil litigation lawyer can help you navigate the process smoothly and efficiently.

What is the process of dealing with civil disputes?

Step 1: Seek Legal Advice

The first step in dealing with a civil dispute is to seek legal advice from a qualified civil litigation lawyer in Sydney. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and obligations, assess the strength of your case, and advise you on the best course of action.

Depending on the nature of the dispute, there may be specific laws and regulations that apply, and a lawyer can help you navigate these complexities.

Step 2: Attempt Mediation, Negotiation or Arbitration

In many cases, civil disputes can be resolved through mediation or negotiation rather than going to court.

In mediation, a neutral third party who the parties in dispute to reach a mutually acceptable agreement, while negotiation involves direct communication between the parties to try to resolve the dispute.

Negotiations between the parties and their lawyers in an informal settlement conference or direct communications between the lawyers are also an effective way to resolve many disputes.

Arbitration is also a way to avoid going to a court or tribunal and many contracts require parties to use arbitration instead of court or tribunal proceedings. The parties agree upon an arbitrator and agree upon the rules of the arbitration process. Usually, the arbitrator’s decision is final unless there is a manifest error or an error of law.

Mediation, negotiation and arbitration can be quicker and less expensive than going to court. However, if they are unsuccessful, the dispute may need resolution through court or tribunal proceedings.

Step 3: Start Legal Proceedings

If mediation, negotiation or arbitration is unsuccessful, the next step may be to commence legal proceedings. This involves filing a claim in court or tribunal, outlining the nature of the dispute and the relief being sought. A civil litigation lawyercan assist you in navigating through the court proceedings.

Legal proceedings will involve the entire civil litigation process starting from pre-filing, filing and pleadings to discovery service of subpoenas and trial.

Step 4: Attend Court or Tribunal Hearing

At the court or tribunal hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to present their case and evidence.

Next, the judge or tribunal member will make a decision on the dispute. The decision may be enforceable and legally binding, depending on the dispute’s nature and the type of court or tribunal involved. Often, the unsuccessful party is ordered to pay the successful party’s legal costs,

Step 5: Consider Appeals

If one of the parties is dissatisfied with the decision of the court or tribunal, they may have the right to appeal to the higher court. This involves lodging an application to a full panel of a tribunal or a higher court, which will review the decision and determine whether it was correct. However, appeals can be very costly and time-consuming.

Wrapping Up

Dealing with civil disputes in Australia can be a complex and challenging process. Working with a qualified professional such as a commercial lawyer with experience in litigation, you have a better chance at ensuring a fair and efficient resolution to your civil disputes.

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