What is civil litigation | What role does it play?

Civil law is a body of rules and regulations developed for resolving conflicts that are not criminal. The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC), is a procedural law governing the conduct of civil proceedings in India.

Civil litigation is the filing and subsequent application of a civil lawsuit that is implemented for resolving a non-criminal dispute. The following is a guideline on civil litigation and its importance.

What is civil litigation?

Civil litigation is the resolution of civil disputes in a court of law. Civil disputes may include disputes regarding relationships, such as a marriage, or a contract dispute between corporations. In contrast to criminal cases, civil cases typically involve an individual or business filing a lawsuit against another individual or company.

The standard of proof in civil proceedings is less stringent than those in criminal proceedings. To win their cases, lawyers in civil cases should satisfy the preponderance of the evidence standard, which requires the lawyers to simply present more convincing evidence to a judge or jury than that of their opponents.

By contrast, in criminal trials, to prevail and win litigation, in addition to presenting compelling evidence, prosecutors must prove their case beyond doubt.

Types of civil litigation

After defining civil litigation, we detail the types of civil litigation.

The majority of legal cases fall under the jurisdiction of civil litigation. A dispute between a landlord and a tenant eventually leading to a court case is an example of civil litigation. Some examples of common civil litigation cases are as follows:

Malpractice in medicine

Although doctors and other medical professionals treat illnesses and injuries, they can occasionally make things worse. In the case of medical negligence and gross incompetence, the aggrieved party can sue for the compensation of medical expenses and other costs.

Accidental injuries

This litigation is a common type of civil litigation. In case of an injury resulting from negligence in the workplace, hiring a personal injury lawyer is often the only way to ensure that the costs associated with the injury are covered.

Divorce disputes

In case of a failure of a marriage and eventual separation, many critical decisions, including the division of assets and arrangements for child custody, are to be made. However, figuring out these details without pursuing litigation may not always be possible.

Litigation over patents

When a party infringes on the patent or trademark of another party, the infringed party may file a lawsuit to enforce their patent rights and claim compensation for the illegal use of their patent or trademark encampassing inventions, products, or software.

Essentially, if a party manufactures or sells the design of the patent holder without permission, the patent holder may sue to seek a financial settlement.

Litigation in the public interest

This type of litigation is a new area of law in which courts file lawsuits to protect or maintain the well-being of a community. Any individual or corporate entity whose actions harm or impede societal progress may face legal repercussions. This type of litigation is frequently initiated in environmental issues and law as well as public health concerns.

Commercial and business litigation

Commercial and business litigation is initiated in case of a dispute between individuals or business entities. Disagreements can arise at any level of interaction, and they can happen between partners, shareholders, business owners, competing companies, lenders, vendors, or anyone else.

Some examples of commercial litigation include breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, copyright infringement, fraud, trademark infringement, unfair competition, indemnity, defamation, and construction disputes.

Steps in a civil law case

A civil lawsuit proceeds in the following three phases:

  1. Institution
  2. Trial
  3. Judgement

The institution phase has the following subphases:

  • Institution of a suit
  • Issuance and service of summons
  • Appearance of the defendant
  • Defendant’s written statement and set-off claims
  • Rejoinder by plaintiff in replication
  • Issue framing

The trial phase proceeds as follows:

  • Plaintiff’s evidence
  • Cross-examination of the plaintiff’s evidence
  • Defendant’s evidence
  • Cross-examination of defendant’s Evidence
  • Final argument

The judgement phase proceeds as follows:

  • Judgement/decree
  • Review of the Decree
  • Appeal
  • Decree execution

A complaint or petition is the document that initiates a civil case. It explains the facts of the case, why the court has jurisdiction, and what the plaintiffs seek to redress for their grievance (e.g., money or an injunction).

Defendants are then served with summons that notify them of the case against them and the date on which they must appear in court. In most cases, the defendant is provided with 30 days to respond to plaintiff’s allegations against them. In case the defendant does not provide a timely response, the court may reserve default judgement in the favour of the plaintiff.

At this stage, the defendant can file a motion to dismiss the complaint because of a lack of jurisdiction or the failure of the plaintiff to state a valid legal claim. Following the defendant’s response, either party may file a motion for summary judgement.

The typical civil trial procedure is as follows:

The trial stage: The stages of a civil court case are similar to those of a criminal case, but the burden of proof differs considerably.

However, in a civil case, the plaintiff only needs to demonstrate that the defendant is liable.

The plaintiff’s and defendant’s lawyers present opening statements to the jury, outlining their client’s argument and summarising the evidence they will present at the trial to substantiate their claims.

Evidence and cross-examination of evidence presented by plaintiff: The plaintiff must present their evidence first unless the defendant accepts the plaintiff’s accusations but objects to the requested relief. The defence lawyer for the defendant will cross-examine the plaintiff. The plaintiff’s witnesses must appear in court and are subject to cross-examination by the defendant’s attorney.

Evidence and cross-examination of evidence presented by Defendant: When the plaintiff has rested or has finished presenting evidence, the defence may follow suit. Next, the plaintiff may cross-examine the defence witnesses.

Final arguments: The lawyers for both sides will make closing statements to the jury, summarise their cases, and persuade the jurors of their claims.

Judgment/decree: The court may deliver its decision the same day as the conclusion of the final arguments or postpone judgement for a later day.

The resolution of a civil litigation may require years because of the lengthy procedure. In typical cases, the plaintiff and the defendant may reach an agreement to avoid a trial.

Role of civil litigation lawyers

Civil litigation lawyers perform numerous tasks. For example, most people consider them in the context of representing either the plaintiff or the defendant in court to ensure the best possible outcomes for their client. However, due to their obligations to their clients, civil litigation lawyers may also play other roles during the civil litigation process.

An example would be an investigation conducted by a civil litigation lawyer to ensure the accumulation of sufficient evidence to launch a civil lawsuit. Another example would be the submission of various pleadings and motions required to initiate a civil lawsuit.


Civil litigation and their associated processes were elaborated. To recap, civil litigation is the legal recourse used to resolve non-criminal disputes. The processes involved in civil litigation are complex. Therefore, consulting a civil litigation lawyer with detailed knowledge of law can help attain the best results in your interest.

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