Our litigation services
Our litigation services touch on a variety of disputes including, but not necessarily limited to, employment disputes, business disputes, personal matters such as defamation and contract disputes, property disputes and consumer disputes to name a few.
Personal and commercial disputes can be extremely stressful and can often lead to parties wasting significant time and resources to try and resolve the disputes to find that they have reached an impasse and a resolution is beyond reach. In these circumstances, you need an experienced litigation lawyer who can distil the facts to their simplest form, assess your prospects and advise on an appropriate course of action.
If you intend to embark on this process, you need certainly that your litigation lawyer will present your best case, communicate clearly and effectively with any opponents, and fight for the best outcome. Throughout this process, your litigation lawyer should keep you informed as to progress, recommend any changes to the pre-determined strategy and keep you abreast of any increase to the professional fees without the complex legal jargon.
The litigation process often begins with a letter to the opponent/s that provides the relevant facts to support the claim and the relief sought i.e., payment of money in settlement of a debt or retraction of defamatory material and an apology. No two matters are the same and therefore it is often difficult to say how long a matter will take from initial letter. That said, civil litigation usually follows a set structure from start to finish and is guided by the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 (UCPR) in Queensland. The UCPR provides useful guidance on the various stages and procedures of the litigation process. While the rules and guidance provided by the UCPR is helpful, the advice and assistance of an experienced litigation lawyer at the earliest opportunity will prove invaluable.
Commencement of proceedings
Formal litigation in Queensland usually starts with the commencement of proceedings in a court of competent jurisdiction. To start the process, a Claim is prepared and filed in the registry of the relevant Court by the plaintiff/s. The Claim must set out the relief sought and the facts to support the claim. The documents that must be filed are referred to as a Claim and Statement of Claim. It is critical that these documents are drafted correctly as they will form the basis of the matter going forward.
Defence / Judgment
Once served with the Claim and Statement of Claim, the defendant/s will be required to file a Notice of Intention to Defend and Defence in the same Court within 28 days. The Defence will respond to each allegation stated in the Statement of Claim. Failure to file defence material within 28 days can lead to the plaintiff applying for Default Judgment for the whole of the relief sought together with the costs of obtaining judgment and interest in some instances.
If you have been served with a Claim and Statement of Claim, you should consult with an experienced litigation lawyer as soon as possible.
The plaintiff can reply to any matters raised in the Defence by way of a Reply. The Reply must be filed and served within 14 days of receiving the Defence.
This step otherwise known as disclosure often causes people to break out in a sweat at the thought of locating copies of documents (either in hard copy or electronic) that are relevant to the matters in dispute. Disclosure is intended to prevent surprise at the trial, inform the parties of the issues to be disputed at the trial, and to assist the parties to resolve disputes of fact. At this point parties may obtain expert evidence to support their claim.
You must disclose all documents:
- in your possession or under your control; and
- that are directly relevant to an allegation in issue in the pleadings.
A document includes:
- any paper or other material on which there is writing;
- any paper or other material on which there are marks, figures, symbols, or perforations; and
- any disc, tape or other article or any material from which sounds, images, writings or messages are capable of being produced or reproduced
(section 36 Acts Interpretation Act 1954)
In certain cases, the Court has provision for the electronic management of documents. At Victor Legal we promote the use of technological applications for the disclosure process to ensure accuracy and efficacy.
Litigation and Dispute Resolution Legal Services
Once the above steps are completed, a mediation or settlement conference usually takes place. A mediation or settlement conference may be convened by the parties privately, or it may be order by the Court or Tribunal. A mediation or settlement conference provides the parties with the final opportunity to settle a matter before a trial or hearing.
Parties often instruct their legal representative to engage in negotiations with he opponent/s either before, during or after a settlement conference or mediation. Experienced litigation lawyers understand the subtle intricacies of negotiation and they appreciate the costs, process and grief that the parties will endure if the matter proceeds to trial or hearing. For these reasons, it is important that parties engage an experienced litigation lawyer.
Trial or hearing
At this point the matter will be listed for trial or hearing. The legal representatives with present their respective cases including all evidence before a Member or Judge. After hearing the submissions and considering the evidence, the Member or Judge will retire to deliberate before giving judgment (or, in some cases, reserving their decision (meaning the Court will deliver its judgment on another day).
Throughout the trial or hearing, it is important that parties adhere to Court etiquette including standing up when instructed, addressing each Judge formally as ‘your honour’ and to communicate only through your legal representative unless instructed otherwise by the Judge.