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Civil Cases General If you have a civil case e. The law does not require you to be represented by a lawyer unless you are a body corporate e.

Outline of Canada’s Court System

Procedure Anyone who has a claim known as the Plaintiff may issue a Writ of Summons or an Originating Summons and have it served to the other party known as the Defendant. By doing so, both parties would incur less legal costs. If the Defendant disputes the claim, the Defendant should consult a lawyer quickly.

Steps in a Trial

The Defendant's lawyer will then file a document Memorandum of Appearance in Court on the Defendant's behalf to dispute the claim. This has to be done within 8 days of the receipt of the Writ of Summons or the Originating Summons.

Instead of appointing a lawyer, the Defendant may also wish to file the Memorandum of Appearance by attending at the Registry of the appropriate Court. Note that refusing to acknowledge service of a Writ of Summons does not make the service of the Summons invalid.

How Courts Work

It also does not prevent the Plaintiff from proceeding further. The Plaintiff can obtain an Order of Court Judgment to compel the Defendant to pay up the amount claimed if the Memorandum of Appearance is not filed in time.

If the Defendant has any counterclaim against the Plaintiff, the Defendant can also make it in the same action brought by the Plaintiff. From the High Court, parties may appeal to the Court of Appeal unless the claims are prohibited from appeal under the law. Such inquiries are held when there is reason to suspect that a person has died suddenly or unnaturally, by violence, or when the cause of death is unknown and in situations where the law requires an inquiry.

Community Court The Community Court deals with special cases involving community resources and criminal justice. Such cases include: Youthful offenders aged 16 to 18 Offenders with mental disabilities Neighbourhood disputes Attempted suicide cases Family violence cases Carnal connection offences committed by youthful offenders Abuse and cruelty to animals Cases which impact on race relations issues Selected cases involving offenders aged 65 years and above Small Claims Tribunals The Small Claims Tribunals handles small claim disputes.

All claims must be filed within 1 year from the date of the incident. The procedure is meant to be an informal, easy and inexpensive way to solve conflict. In a civil case, either party may appeal to a higher court. In a criminal case, only the defendant has a right to an appeal in most states.


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Some states give the prosecution a limited right to appeal to determine certain points of law. These appeals usually occur before the actual trial begins. Appeals by the prosecution after a verdict are not normally allowed because of the prohibition in the U. Constitution against double jeopardy , or being tried twice for the same crime. Criminal defendants convicted in state courts have a further safeguard.

Victims Information – Types of courts

After using all of their rights of appeal on the state level, they may file a writ of habeas corpus in the federal courts in an attempt to show that their federal constitutional rights were violated. The right of a federal review imposes the check of the federal courts on abuses that may occur in the state courts.

An appeal is not a retrial or a new trial of the case. The appeals courts do not usually consider new witnesses or new evidence. Appeal Procedure. The party appealing is called the appellant , or sometimes the petitioner. The other party is the appellee or the respondent.

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The appeal is instituted with the filing of a notice of appeal. This filing marks the beginning of the time period within which the appellant must file a brief , a written argument containing that side's view of the facts and the legal arguments upon which they rely in seeking a reversal of the trial court. The appellee then has a specified time to file an answering brief. The appellant may then file a second brief answering the appellee's brief.


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Sometimes, appeals courts make their decision only on the basis of the written briefs. Sometimes, they hear oral arguments before deciding a case. Often the court will ask that the case be set for oral argument, or one of the parties will request oral argument. At oral argument, each side's attorney is given a relatively brief opportunity to argue the case to the court, and to answer questions posed by the judges.

How does Sweden's criminal justice system work?

In the U. Supreme Court, for example, an hour is set for oral argument of most cases, which gives each side's lawyers about half an hour to make their oral argument and answer questions. In the federal courts of appeals, the attorneys are often allotted less time than that - or minute arguments are common. The appellate court determines whether errors occurred in applying the law at the lower court level. It generally will reverse a trial court only for an error of law.