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Q: What is the difference between a criminal case and a civil case?
A: In a criminal case, the Crown, represented by prosecutors, generally seeks to have a sentence imposed on one or more accused person(s). In a civil case, two or more natural or legal persons attempt to resolve disputes, either by negotiating or by relying on dispute resolution mechanisms such as litigation in courts, arbitration, and mediation.
Q: What is a limitation period?
A: A limitation period restricts the amount of time you have to rely on the legal system, such as filing a lawsuit against another or enforcing a judgment. Different limitation periods are involved based on different factors, such as the party you are suing and when you first discovered the claim. It is crucial to comply with limitation periods as, for example, you could lose your case outright by having filed a claim after the limitation period.
Q: What can I do if I lost my case that I should have won?
A: It may be possible to file a judicial review or appeal if you do so within a particular timeframe. If you have been representing yourself beforehand, you should strongly consider retaining legal counsel for the judicial review or appeal.
Q: How long does it usually take for a case to go to trial?
A: Each case is different. The time between filing a claim and proceeding to trial varies between a few months and several years.
Q: How do I know when to hire a lawyer?
A: You should always speak with a lawyer about your case immediately. Some limitation periods are extremely short, such as a few days. You should also immediately speak with a lawyer to determine whether you have a case or not.
Q: What is a demand letter?
A: A demand letter sets out certain demands, a date by which the demands must be met and of litigation or further legal action if the demands are not complied with. You can send a demand letter before or after commencing legal action, though in certain cases, you are required to issue a demand letter of a particular format before commencing legal action.
Q: What is a small claims court?
A: In British Columbia, the Small Claims Court is a part of the B.C. Provincial Court adjudicating claims between $5,000.01 and $35,000 and, under certain scenarios, claims of up to $5,000.
Q: I received a Notice of Claim. Now what?
A: If you have received a Notice of Claim form, you are almost certainly being sued. You should contact a lawyer immediately.
Q: Should I settle out of court?
A: Only you can make this decision. Most cases settle before they go to trial. The trial can be a long, frustrating process. However, the drawback of negotiating is that the opposing party can choose whether or not to negotiate with you.
Q: What if the defendant does not reply to my claim?
A: If the defendant has not responded within the time limit and if you have complied with all legal requirements for that time limit to apply, you can consider seeking a default order.
Q: What is the Civil Resolution Tribunal (the “CRT”)?
A: The CRT is an online tribunal that deals with claims of $5,000 or under and many strata issues, among others. It allows for online negotiation opportunities as well as adjudication to help you settle your dispute. Some issues the CRT may deal with include:
debt or damages
recovery of personal property
opposing claims to personal property
demanding performance of an agreement about personal property or services.
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