Dispute Resolution & Litigation Lawyers

What is Civil Litigation?

Civil litigation is a process where civil disputes (i.e. non-criminal disputes) between individuals, corporate entities or other legal personalities are resolved.

Civil litigation is often perceived as attending a Court and obtaining a judicial decision. However, it can involve other ways to resolve disputes including settlement negotiations and/or mediation conferences outside of court.

What is the Process for Civil Litigation?

Civil litigation in New Zealand typically follows the following process:

  1. Pre-action steps: Before filing a claim in court, the parties involved may try to resolve the issue through negotiation, mediation, or other forms of alternative dispute resolution. If this fails, the plaintiff can file a statement of claim in the appropriate court, setting out their case and what they are seeking as relief.
  2. Filing a statement of claim: If the dispute cannot be resolved through pre-action steps, the plaintiff (the person or entity initiating the claim) files a statement of claim in the appropriate court. The statement of claim sets out the plaintiff’s case and the relief sought.
  3. Service of the statement of claim: The defendant (the person or entity against whom the claim is made) is served with a copy of the statement of claim, along with a notice of proceedings that sets out the defendant’s rights and obligations.
  4. Defence and counterclaim: The defendant has a certain amount of time (usually 25 working days) to file a statement of defence, responding to the allegations in the statement of claim. The defendant may also file a counterclaim against the plaintiff.
  5. Exchange of information: The parties exchange relevant information and documents in a process called discovery. This may involve written questions, requests for documents, or depositions (sworn statements made under oath).
  6. Pre-trial conferences: The court may hold pre-trial conferences to help the parties prepare for trial and to attempt to resolve the dispute without a trial.
  7. Trial: If the dispute cannot be resolved through settlement or alternative dispute resolution, the matter proceeds to trial. The trial is conducted before a judge, who makes a decision based on the evidence presented.
  8. Judgement and remedies: After the trial, the judge issues a judgement, which sets out the court’s findings and the remedies (if any) that are awarded to the successful party.
  9. Appeals: Either party may appeal the judgement to a higher court, seeking to have the decision overturned or modified.

Which Court Hears Civil Litigation Cases?

The District Court

A District Court proceeding is commenced by filing a Statement of Claim and Notice of Proceeding. ​

The plaintiff must then serve the document on the defendant. The defendant then has 25 working days to file a defence.

If the defendant does not file a statement of defence, in many cases, the plaintiff may simply apply for judgement by default from the Court. This is a common way in which litigation is concluded and our litigation lawyers regularly adopt this approach.

If the matter is defended, there are three types of trial that could be allocated and it depends on the complexity of the case as to how the litigation will proceed. Often a Judicial Settlement Conference is scheduled which is also a great way to facilitate settlement.

The High Court

The High Court process is commenced in a similar way as the District Court, by filing a Statement of Claim and Notice of Proceeding. After service on a defendant, the defendant has 25 working days to file a defence.

The High Court has a rigorous case management programme in which Associate Judges will implement strict timetables to ensure the litigation proceeds meaningfully to trial.

To be successful at the High Court, you need to be strategic and employ a clear theory of the case whilst having a clear understanding of each stage and what is expected of you in each stage in order to win at trial.

It’s important to note that civil litigation can be a complex and time-consuming process, and parties should seek advice from a litigation lawyer before proceeding with a claim.

Mediation and Arbitration

Mediation and arbitration are two forms of dispute resolution which aim to avoid involving the courts in the civil litigation process.

Mediation involves a neutral third party, the mediator, who helps the parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement. The mediator does not make a decision but instead facilitates communication and negotiation between the parties. The goal of mediation is to avoid the time and expense of a trial, as well as to preserve the relationship between the parties if possible.

Mediation provides the parties with the opportunity to negotiate flexible and creative solutions, which are often not available in litigation. A skilled mediator assists the parties to develop and explore settlement options and negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement which meets the interests and needs of all parties.

Arbitration is a more formal process that involves a neutral third party, an arbitrator, who hears evidence and arguments from both sides and makes a binding decision. The arbitrator’s decision is usually final and cannot be appealed, except in limited circumstances. Arbitration can be voluntary or required by contract, and it is often used as an alternative to going to court. The goal of arbitration is to provide a less formal and less expensive alternative to a trial while still providing a final resolution to the dispute.

If you would like to explore engaging a mediator at Norling Law, please submit the details of your issue for resolution here.

What Does a Litigation Lawyer Do?

At Norling Law, we are experts in litigation and dispute resolution and are passionate about providing our clients with a problem-solving approach to solving legal issues. We use our problem-solving skills in serving our clients on a daily basis.

Norling Law supports mediation as an efficient way of solving legal issues, and where suitable, encourages the use of mediation to its clients. Litigation can be protracted and expensive and we are focused on providing strategic advice at all stages of the process. Engaging with an experienced litigation lawyer will reduce the delay and cost of litigation. In most cases, commercial settlements are the best outcome for all concerned. Where appropriate we facilitate alternative dispute resolution strategies that suit our clients’ needs.

If possible, we will negotiate with a view to providing the best outcome for you. The earlier a dispute is addressed professionally, the more likely it is to settle; before the parties become too entrenched to their position.

Norling Law also offers an independent and impartial mediation service to non-clients in a dispute.

Our skilled mediator can help you to:

  • negotiate profitable solutions and reach a better deal.
  • resolve disputes early as possible to save on costs.
  • retain control of the outcome.
  • be creative with solving the problem.
  • resolve the differences.

Our litigation lawyers have experience at the District Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. We have a good working knowledge of the processes and procedures of these various courts.

Our knowledge of these processes and procedures will be used innovatively with a results-focused approach. We are committed to the application of this knowledge to the best advantage of our clients throughout the civil litigation process.

We have significant experience in dealing with all aspects of insolvent companies and individuals. We often are involved in cases where we bankrupt and liquidate debtors. We also deal with a significant volume of  Shareholder Disputes. We also have experience in obtaining orders for arrest, attachment on wages, charging, sale and freezing property pending the outcome of the litigation.

Free Legal Consultation

If you would like to explore engaging Norling Law to assist in resolving commercial disputes as your engaged counsel, we offer a no obligation legal consultation with our litigation lawyers where we can discuss:

  • The nature of the dispute;
  • The ideal resolution;
  • Potential strategies to resolve issues and obtain the best outcome.

Book your no obligation legal consultation.