Law Book Full of Litigation Terms to Know

Litigation (the process of resolving civil disputes through the public court system) can be complex; even trained lawyers occasionally forget some terminology. That is why we put together this extensive guide on litigation terms that you’ll need to know for trial.

Affirmative Defense – in an affirmative defense, the defendant proves that they have no liability, even if they committed the act for which they are on trial. Self-defense and proven insanity are examples of affirmative defense.

Arbitration – two disagreeing parties can agree to a method of resolving disputes outside the court system. Once the two sides agree to arbitrate, they take their disagreement to a private panel of arbitrators, who may be experts in a relevant field. The parties agree ahead of time to abide by the decision of the arbitrators.

Case Management Conference – at the case management conference, the lawyers (and sometimes the disputing parties) sit down with the judge and organize how the legal case will be conducted. The judge ensures that all paperwork has been properly filed, and may require that the dispute be taken through an alternative dispute resolution process before it gets scheduled for court.

Complaint – in civil law, a complaint is the first document (“pleading”) filed that sets a legal case in motion. This pleading states what happened, what judicial solution the person complaining (“plaintiff”) is requesting and why a particular court has jurisdiction over the case.

Cross-Claim – a cross claim is a complaint brought by the defendant in a civil case against the plaintiff, or by one plaintiff against another. For example, if a roofing company sues a homeowner for nonpayment of a bill, the homeowner might make a cross claim against the roofer for using materials that ruined the siding of the house, thus ruining their equity of their home – explained here.

Deposition – depositions are sworn statements made by witnesses outside the courtroom. They can be conducted orally or in writing, and they are officially recorded by a court reporter. Their usefulness lies in providing information that contributes to the discovery process.

Examination Under Oath (EUO) – this is a process specifically related to the insurance industry, in which an insured person makes a sworn statement regarding the losses they are claiming that they have suffered. The EUO is made before a court reporter, usually with attorneys present. It is a process that insurers use to protect themselves against fraudulent claims.

Motion to Compel – one party in a dispute may ask the court to compel the opposing side to produce more information (“discovery”) about the case at hand. Motions to compel are only used when a routine request to the opposing party has gone unanswered.

Motion for Summary Judgment – if the facts in a case are not disputed, then the defendant can ask the judge to make a ruling based on the documents and statements that have already been filed. This is called a mo