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Guide to Starting or Defending an Action at Court

Disclaimer: These legal information materials are prototypes which have been developed for the Public Navigator Project. These materials will be further developed as the project continues. Please provide your feedback below.

Before You Go To Court

Things to think about:

  • Is there another way to solve the dispute? Have you looked at other possible ways to resolve the issue, like negotiation or mediation?

  • Are there time limits for starting a civil lawsuit for this particular issue? Have you missed them? Click here for more information about time limits.

  • Can you get legal help? Have you explored all options for getting legal advice?
    Even a single meeting with a lawyer may help. A lawyer can talk with you about your likelihood of success and can help clarify your questions about the law or the process. Some lawyers offer help with just part of a case. This is called "unbundled services" or a "Limited Scope Retainer".

  • Lawsuits can take a long time. Just filing documents with court does not immediately lead to a trial – there may be a long wait (2 years is not unusual)

  • Do you understand the risks of going to court? Going to court is the hardest way to solve disputes. Things to think about:

    • Court $$ costs money
        • For example, it costs $218.05 (plus law stamp $25+HST) to start a claim in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court (Click here for more court fee information). Other expenses include the cost of witnesses, experts, discoveries, photocopying, etc.
        • Costs if you lose. Could you be on the hook for some of the other side's legal fees?

    • Your health and wellbeing
        • Your credibility may be challenged. Court is like a battle and you must prove your version of the facts
        • There will be an emotional toll on you, your family, and friends. Going through a court process is stressful and may affect both your mental and physical health

    • Court can take a long time
        • are you prepared to spend evenings and weekends working on the case?
        • can you take time off work to go to court?
        • the court process may take years

    • Is there a legal issue (merit) for your claim and can you get legal help to figure that out?

  • At Court - the hearing or trial
      • There are many steps along the way [motions, exchange of documents, etc.]
      • Doing a trial on your own is challenging
      • People going to court without a lawyer do not succeed as often as people who go to court with a lawyer representing them.


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