The Three Major Phases of Litigation: An Expert's Perspective

As an experienced trial attorney with over 30 years of practice in Ontario, I have seen countless cases go through the litigation process. From the initial investigative stage to the final verdict, every phase of litigation is crucial and requires careful consideration. In this article, I will provide an expert's perspective on the three major phases of litigation and how they can impact the outcome of a case.

The Investigative Stage

All civil cases begin with the investigative stage, where your lawyer takes charge of gathering evidence to support your version of the argument. This may involve hiring a private investigator or conducting informal witness interviews.

The main goal of this stage is to find evidence that will strengthen your case and weaken the opposing party's arguments. During this stage, both parties involved in a lawsuit must file allegations through initial documents known as pleadings. These documents outline the basic arguments on each side of the legal issue. The investigative stage is crucial as it sets the foundation for the rest of the litigation process.

The Pre-Trial Phase

After the investigative stage, comes the pre-trial phase, which involves meetings and negotiations between attorneys from both sides. This is an opportunity for parties to reach an agreement before going to trial.

If an agreement is reached, the case can be resolved without going to court. If no agreement is reached during this phase, the case moves on to trial. Before setting a trial date, parties may attend a pre-trial conference with a judge or mediator. This allows them to discuss any potential procedural issues that may arise during the trial and potentially resolve the case before going to court.

The Discovery Stage

The discovery stage is when both parties gather evidence to support their claims and then exchange it with each other. This may involve exchanging relevant documents, questioning witnesses under oath, and conducting examinations to determine the discovery. During this stage, both parties have the opportunity to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their case, potentially reach an agreement, and reduce their trial problems.

The discovery stage is crucial as it allows parties to gather all the necessary evidence to present their case in court.

The Trial Phase

The trial phase is when the case is heard in court, either before a judge or before a judge and jury. The plaintiff presents their case first, followed by the defendant. Both parties can call witnesses to testify and present evidence to support their arguments. Once both parties have presented their case, the judge or jury makes a decision and issues a verdict. However, the litigation process does not end here.

There may be an opportunity to take additional steps and appeal the decision.

The Post-Trial Phase

If either party is not satisfied with the outcome of the trial, they have the right to appeal within 14 days after the date of the decision. The appeal will go to a higher court where the arguments and evidence presented during the trial will be reviewed. In such cases, the appellate court is usually looking for any legal error that could change the outcome. After the verdict, either party can also request a new trial or appeal the decision to a higher court. However, it's important to note that appeals can only be filed if there is reason to believe that an error was made in the judgment.


In conclusion, understanding the three major phases of litigation in Ontario is crucial for navigating the legal system effectively.

From the pre-litigation phase to the post-trial phase, every stage of the litigation process requires careful consideration and can greatly impact the outcome of a case. If you find yourself involved in a legal dispute, it's best to hire an experienced trial attorney who can guide you through the process and help you achieve a satisfactory outcome. If you're looking for an experienced trial attorney in Ontario, look no further. Contact Allan Rouben today for a free consultation on your case. With his extensive litigation experience, he can provide you with the guidance and representation you need to navigate the complex legal system.

Ernest Carsten
Ernest Carsten

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