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We understand that civil disputes can often feel frustrating, all-consuming and draining. At Jameson Law, our experienced lawyers specialise in civil matters and can provide high quality, honest legal advice and legal services to assist with your dispute resolution or civil litigation matter.
Whether you are a claimant or defendant in a civil dispute, our experienced lawyers can assist with any civil litigation or dispute resolution matter, with expertise in the following areas of law:
- Civil litigation and dispute resolution
- Personal injury
- Family law
- Debt recovery
- Employment law and employment disputes
- Probate and deceased estates
- Property law, including leases, tenancy disputes and real estate matters
- Breach of contract
- Commercial law and commercial litigation
- Defamation law
- Human rights infringements
- Medical negligence
- Motor vehicle accident and motor vehicle compensation claims
Ultimately, our law firm can provide you with the best lawyers to assist with your civil dispute matter. Our experienced lawyers are well-equipped to provide high quality legal advice and advocacy in legal matters across all jurisdictions, whether in the Supreme Court or in tribunal matters.
What does a civil lawyer do?
In Australia, a civil lawyer specialises in civil law, and is responsible for providing legal advice and advocacy for clients who have a legal matter that is non-criminal in nature. Generally, civil lawyers represent parties in civil disputes in which one party argues that another party has committed some act that has resulted in loss or damage to them, and that party seeks for the act to stop, or for compensation for loss or damage that has resulted from the act.
Civil law includes all legal matters outside of the criminal law, including commercial disputes and breach of contract, family law matters, personal injury claims, employment law, real estate and property law (including lease and tenancy disputes), defamation, insolvency and medical negligence claims.
A civil lawyer is responsible for assisting clients to resolve the kinds of disputes which often arise in these areas of law. This role includes the following:
- advice: providing high quality legal advice, for clients who seek the counsel of a lawyer as to their rights, whether a claim is likely to be successful or successfully defended, or the legal options available to a client in seeking a desired outcome from their civil matter; and
- advocacy: civil lawyers are qualified to represent clients in civil litigation and tribunal hearings. Representation is critical, and this role includes providing advocacy for clients at hearings, the drafting of submissions and legal documents in consultation with their clients, and negotiating with other parties to seek the most efficient, desirable resolution of the matter (including in pre-trial settlement negotiations).
Ultimately, civil lawyers are responsible for guiding clients through confusing legal processes, providing high quality legal advice and explaining legal concepts in real terms. Civil lawyers main focus should always be on the outcome that is best for their client. If you have a legal dispute, it is essential that you have the best lawyers on your side who can provide impartial, honest and high quality legal services. For a free consultation, contact our law firm to discuss your legal matter today.
What is the difference between a civil and a criminal lawyer?
While criminal lawyers deal with the law relating to criminal offences and the consequences for those who commit them, civil lawyers deal exclusively with private matters between two legal entities (which includes individuals and companies). Criminal lawyers specialise in defending those accused of committing criminal offences, or prosecuting those offences.
Where a dispute arises between two legal entities, or one argues they have otherwise been wronged by the other, civil lawyers will represent the parties to defend their interests and enforce their legal rights. Civil lawyers specialise in a range of areas of law across a range of legal issues, and provide a variety of legal services in support of their clients. These legal services include legal advice about the prospects of a legal matter and the rights of their client in the face of a legal dispute, advocacy and representation in any dispute resolution including in courts or tribunals, and legal aid in the kinds of disputes outlined above.
What areas of law does a civil lawyer specialise in?
Civil lawyers can assist in a variety of legal matters, with some specialising in one area, and others providing more general legal assistance to clients in dispute resolution or commercial litigation matters. Some of the kinds of disputes a civil lawyer can assist with include:
- Personal injury: if you have been injured and you believe somebody is at fault, civil lawyers can provide expert legal services to seek the compensation to which you are entitled. If you have been injured at work, in a shopping centre or even at a train station, a civil lawyer can provide expert advice and advocacy to assist with compensation for any injury and medical expenses incurred as a result
- Family law: family lawyers specialise in all aspects of family law, including separation and divorce matters, deceased estates including wills and probate matters and issues of power of attorney
- Debt recovery: lawyers can assist with legal advice about the best way of recovering any debt owed to you, whether it be through civil litigation or otherwise
- Employment law: our experienced lawyers specialise in a range of employment matters. This includes unfair dismissal and unpaid wages claims, contractual disputes and drafting services (employment and consultancy contracts, etc.)
- Property law: property lawyers specialise in real estate and property matters, including lease and tenancy disputes, property settlements and advice to vendors and purchasers in real property transactions and disputes. Property lawyers also specialise in construction law and litigation, in relation to home building contracts and home building claims in respect of defective or incomplete work
- Commercial law: commercial lawyers are experts in assisting individuals and companies with commercial transactions and disputes, as well as setting up companies and partnership structures for corporate ventures, superannuation schemes and small businesses
- Defamation law: a complex area of law, defamation lawyers assist those whose reputation has been damaged, including seeking compensation or defending a claim for compensation on the basis of alleged defamation
- Human rights: civil lawyers can provide expert legal advice where human rights infringements might have taken place. Whether in the context of your employment, acquisition of your property, or otherwise.
- Medical negligence: if you have been injured as a result of the negligence of a medical professional, lawyers who specialise in medical negligence can assist you with obtaining compensation for your injury
- Motor vehicle accidents: civil lawyers can assist with all aspects of motor vehicle-related claims, including insurance and compensation claims, as well as legal advice in relation to any disputes which arise in the context of road accidents.
What is civil litigation?
If your civil law matter cannot be resolved by mediation or settlement negotiations, the dispute may need to be resolved by a Court or Tribunal. This process is called civil litigation, which simply refers to the process of applying to the Court or Tribunal for a legal remedy such as compensation, preparing for and attending hearings, and having the matter decided by that Court.
Civil litigation can be a complex, time-consuming, costly and emotionally-draining process. Civil litigation matters involve court-specific forms and procedures and complicated legal authority requiring experienced lawyers who specialise in the areas of law relevant to the civil dispute. Often, civil litigation matters consume months and years rather than days and weeks. Where a dispute involves people close to one another, such as in family law matters, civil litigation can exacerbate the tensions involved in the dispute resolution process and the “us vs. them” mentality that accompanies many civil disputes.
In addition, limitation periods applicable in each Australian jurisdiction mean that time limits apply to making of civil claims. Often these time limits can be difficult to navigate and differ depending on the nature of the civil dispute. In some civil matters such as unfair dismissal or unpaid wages matters, time limits can be as little as 28 days. This means that claimants need to act quickly to ensure that they are able to obtain the compensation they deserve, and to minimise the risk that a Court will refuse any entitlements because the claimant is either out of time, or has allowed damage to continue.
Why would I litigate my civil matter?
Despite all of the complexities involved with many civil matters and the dispute resolution mechanisms available, there are significant advantages to pursuing your civil dispute through a Court or Tribunal. First, there is no limit on the amount of compensation (called “damages” in a civil litigation context), provided you are able to prove that you have suffered loss or damage, or are otherwise entitled to that compensation. Courts also allow for compensation from a wrongdoers employer, meaning that where a civil dispute arises and the defendant was acting in the course of their employment, compensation may be claimed from the employer. This vastly increases the likelihood of a favourable outcome for claimants.
In addition to compensation, Courts are also able to award further “damages” where a defendant has acted with disregard for a claimant, or out of malice. These damages can often be lucrative and difficult to obtain outside of Court.
In addition, While civil litigation can be costly, civil matters are resolved through a settlement negotiation prior to the matter being heard in Court or any court processes being engaged. Even the threat of civil litigation, and the significant costs involved in defending a claim, can be a critical negotiation tool in the favourable resolution of a civil dispute for a claimant. Our legal team is available to guide you through this process with high quality legal advice, to represent you in any correspondence and negotiations, and to fight for your right to any compensation or remedy to which you are entitled.
What is the difference between a Court and a Tribunal?
While Courts have a general jurisdiction (authority) to hear any range of civil matters, Tribunals are established by law and usually specialise in the hearing of disputes that fall into a specific category. If your civil dispute falls within such a category, then generally the relevant Tribunal will be your first avenue for dispute resolution.
For example, any tenancy or lease disputes in NSW will generally be required to be brought before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT), which has a division with specific jurisdiction to hear tenancy and lease disputes. Similar divisions exist in respect of home building claims, consumer, and commercial claims. NCAT is designed to be accessible and provide specific early dispute resolution facilities to aid in the cheap and quick resolution of the kinds of disputes that fall within the tribunal’s jurisdiction.
If a civil dispute is heard by a Tribunal such as NCAT and a party is not happy with the decision made by that Tribunal, then in some instances they may appeal that decision to an “Appeal Panel”. Depending on the nature and scale of the dispute, the matter can then be further appealed to a Court. In NSW, NCAT decisions can be appealed to the District Court, the Land and Environment Court, or the Supreme Court, depending again on the nature and scale of the dispute and the grounds for appeal.
The above is general legal information and should not be considered legal advice. You should speak with one of our migration lawyers for legal advice tailored to your specific legal matter. The courts and tribunals deal with matters on a case by case basis. It should also be noted that there may be delays due to COVID-19.
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Frequently Asked Questions.
As opposed to criminal proceedings, there are a few advantages to civil claims. First, the standard of proof required to prove that sexual abuse occurred is lower. All that is required is that you show it is more likely than not that the sexual abuse took place. Secondly, civil litigation allows survivors of sexual abuse to seek compensation in the form of damages. These damages are not limited in the way victims support services or national redress schemes are. Thirdly, civil claims can be made against an employer or institution if it can be proven that the organisation was negligent in allowing the sexual abuse to take place. This often increases the compensation available to sex abuse victims.
No. A civil claim is entirely separate to criminal proceedings, and you may prove a civil claim even in the absence of any charges being laid upon the perpetrator of sexual abuse. Such charges or convictions do however assist in establishing a civil claim.
For advice on whether a civil claim might be right for you and for more information on our legal services, please contact our experienced personal injury legal team for a free consultation. We can guide you through how the legal processes might apply to your matter, and whether you may be entitled to make a compensation claim for any physical abuse (including sexual abuse) that you may have suffered.
If a civil claim is successful in establishing liability, a victim of sexual assault is entitled to make a compensation claim for damages for a range of loss and/or damage, provided that loss or damage is also proven. These include pain and suffering, loss of earnings, mental harm, any medical or treatment costs, among others. For a confidential discussion of what compensation you may be entitled to, contact our experienced personal injury lawyers today.
Unfortunately, claimants in respect of historical child sexual abuse under the National Redress Scheme cannot also pursue a civil claim for damages.
This will depend on the time limits applicable in your jurisdiction, the nature of the claim, and the legal processes available to you. If your matter relates to child sex abuse (generally, including physical abuse), no time limits apply to the bringing of a civil compensation claim.
For personal injury claims for sexual assault, limitation periods will generally be three years from the date of the offence. This can however be complicated by a number of factors such as whether the abuse is isolated or ongoing and where the abuse took place, and we recommend seeking legal advice on whether you remain entitled to make a compensation claim.
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