Although the term “litigation” may refer to any legal action, it is usually used in the context of filing a lawsuit. A “trial attorney” is synonymous with being a “litigator,” and these terms refer to a lawyer who goes through the litigation process to trial.
Circumstances Requiring Litigation
Litigation is the default process to resolve disputes between parties. If there is no other process required, then a party will file a lawsuit to start the litigation process. The lawsuit allows the court to decide the outcome of the dispute.
Some matters may need to be litigated in a specific court. Parties have a choice of courts in other circumstances.
The Litigation Process
Once a lawsuit is filed, parties start the process of exchanging claims and information. This process continues until a court either determines that there is no factual dispute that precludes it from ruling or a trial is scheduled at which the judge and/or jury rule about the issues between the parties.
Most lawsuits are filed in state district courts. In a Utah state district court, the litigation process takes on average about 18 months, but the length of litigation can vary greatly and sometimes last several years.
For civil cases under $10,000.00, a plaintiff has the option to proceed in small claims court rather than the district court. The small claims process is simpler and generally lasts less than a year.
Limited matters may be heard in federal courts. For example, matters that involve residents of different states or concern federal laws and involve a dispute of more than $75,000 may be appropriately filed in federal court. Some matters, such a bankruptcy case, must be heard in a federal court.
A contract with a forum selection clause may limit a party’s ability to choose a particular court. Contracts should be reviewed before a case is filed to make sure the proper court is chosen.