Civil litigation relates to any matter where a dispute between two or more parties gets to the point that it involves the judicial system in British Columbia. The litigation involves a wide range of disputes. Examples include contracts, personal injury, family and custody disputes, insurance related matters, commercial disputes, construction disputes, property and land disputes, actions arising out of someone’s negligence, employment and wrongful dismissal issues, wills and estates. These are just a few examples.

Civil litigation does not include matters involving criminal acts or the criminal justice system.

Some disputes must be dealt with through other administrative bodies through specific legislation. Examples include most disputes involving WorkSafe BC, the Human Rights Tribunal or residential tenancy disputes.

There are three levels of courts in British Columbia and they all have a specific role and function. Provincial court is often referred to as the Small Claims Court. It is set up so that it is possible for people to appear before a judge with or without a lawyer. The Provincial Court has jurisdiction to hear matters where the damages would not exceed $35,000. It also has jurisdiction to hear some but not all family law related issues. It is limited with respect to other types of legal cases.

The Supreme Court has unlimited monetary jurisdiction and can make determinations with respect to almost all issues that come before it.  The Supreme Court can also review decisions made by administrative bodies.

The Court of Appeal only deals with matters that have been appealed from the Supreme Court. It is not a court of first instance meaning that cases are not tried in front of a Court of Appeal and witnesses are not presented or cross-examined.

Civil litigation can be very complex. It is governed in most instances by Rules and Regulations. The procedures involved within the court system are also detailed and at times inflexible. Trying to navigate through the judicial system usually requires some expertise. Morelli Chertkow has a variety of lawyers with various areas of experience within diverse areas of law. Before getting deeply involved in a civil litigation matter it is well advised to contact a lawyer and have an initial consultation to find out if legal representation should be considered and if so the cost of retaining a lawyer.

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