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Civil lawyers: When will you need them?

Civil law is a broad term that encompasses the body of law that governs disputes between private parties instead of criminal proceedings. It also includes the rights and duties of citizens, corporations, hospitals, schools and other entities about each other. It essentially regulates how people behave with one another when they are not under the direct auspices or protection of government officials or laws.

There are two types of civil legal issues in general terms: tort-based claims for damages suffered from personal injury or property damage; contract-based claims for breach by one party against a contractual obligation owed to another party. The former may involve allegations such as negligence (e.g., car accident), intentional infliction of emotional distress (e.g., defamation), false imprisonment, trespass, or other actions that violate a common law right or cause economic loss to another person. Tort-based claims may be brought in the civil courts against any party who has allegedly committed an act of negligence that resulted in personal injury, property damage, loss of life or other damages.

Contract-based disputes deal with commercial dealings between private parties, such as selling and purchasing goods/services for money. These claims often involve allegations of breach by one party to their contractual obligation owed to another party. In essence, enforcement action is pursued to obtain a judgment from the court which requires the breaching party to pay compensation/damages/court costs etc.; provide specific performance (e.g., make a car delivery on a specific date), pay money to the aggrieved person/entity etc.

The specific type of relief sought can vary widely depending upon the particular circumstances and nature of the claim alleged. Commonly, both types of cases are combined into one lawsuit, particularly if they both involve personal injury or negligence allegations.

Civil lawyers typically represent one side in a dispute and not both sides unless they agree to do so on a “contingency basis.” This means that if their client obtains no recovery, the attorney does not charge any fees and only gets paid when money damages or court orders/injunctions are obtained for their client. However, some attorneys will take cases without contingency fee arrangements, while others do not represent people on a contingent basis for various reasons.

It is not unusual for a civil lawyer in Singapore to handle more than one case at a time. This will depend on how much work a case entails and whether or not they have experience handling these cases. Consequently, there are certain rules which lawyers must follow when representing clients in the litigation process, which involves: filing pleadings with the court, demands/requests for information from other parties/witnesses, participating in discovery procedures (e.g., interrogatories), attending depositions (formal evidentiary interviews conducted outside the court where testimony is taken under oath) etc.

Part of the work on a civil attorney’s part entails knowing substantive case law, procedural rules, and evidence laws governing each state where litigation is being conducted. To become knowledgeable in these areas, they typically have to do some legal research and reading on their own time after office hours. Moreover, civil lawyers also need to possess certain qualities that enable them to properly represent a client, including patience, critical thinking skills and excellent communication abilities for various types of cases. Additionally, being thorough with details while managing their time is important since there are deadlines associated with different proceedings that certain dates must complete. Failure to meet these could result in further delays or even dismissing the claims altogether if it cannot be done promptly.

In conclusion, civil lawyers can work in any area where laws affect the resolution of disputes. A large part of their job entails legal research, critical thinking skills and great communication abilities. Since they work on behalf of their clients, they must also possess certain qualities such as patience and, most importantly, thoroughness with details.

 

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