What is Litigation?
Litigation is a method of resolving disputes according to certain procedures in a court of law. These procedures have developed over centuries to ensure as best we can that parties can bring a dispute to a neutral judge and jury to resolve that dispute as fairly as possible. It does not bring out perfect results, but these rules are the same rules that everyone must follow.
Over the centuries, we have written procedures that have developed into a rule-book, but to help illustrate those rules and better define them we look to decisions of higher courts that have interpreted those rules and follow them to be consistent.
“Precedence” or “Stare Decisis” is important to the legal system as we follow the principle of consistency in judicial decisions. Procedures, while seemingly overly formal, are in place so that the question can be given to the judge or jury in a fair, efficient, and just manner.
These rules are in place whether you have an attorney or not assisting you in the case. If you have been sued and the other party has an attorney who has studied these rules, you are at a disadvantage and the judge is not permitted to assist you. The judge required by law to be neutral and if they violate that neutrality by offering advice on what to do, that judge could be disbarred or sanctioned.
When should I contact an attorney?
If you have been sued or want to initiate a lawsuit, it is vitally important that you have an attorney to represent you and advocate on your behalf. It is crucial that you contact an attorney immediately after being served with a summons and the petition. Once served, there is a time set depending on the jurisdiction, some jurisdictions it is twenty days, some thirty days to respond. If you wait to hire an attorney it may be too late.
But, even if you know there is a chance you might be involved in litigation it is best to speak to an attorney. Many defenses or claims require certain steps to be taken previous to a suit to be valid. An attorney can help guide you to set you up in the best position in a lawsuit before it has begun.