Getting caught up in a legal dispute is a very stressful and emotional situation. The uncertainty of the outcome and the myriad of formalities to follow make the experience understandably scary. After all, the law has always been a mysterious field and sometimes, only the most reckless dare to venture to assert their rights.
As complex as the process may be, one of the most effective ways to lighten your burden is to consult a lawyer! The latter, master of legal procedure and of your many rights, will do everything in his power to ensure that you win your case and that justice is served! Check what a lawyer can do for you in Longueuil!
The role of the lawyer in civil law
First of all, we must distinguish the two main areas of law from each other, criminal law and civil law. Civil law is in fact the area of law which governs the relations between individuals in their contractual relations, civil liability, property, obligations, as well as their personal rights.
It is the Civil Code of Quebec that governs the rules of civil law that apply in Quebec. However, the distinction between criminal and civil law does not end there. You will no doubt have heard of the phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt” in your life. This is the standard of proof necessary for granting a guilty judgment
Be aware, however, that such an expression does not apply in civil (or private) law. As the causes are less important, the burden of proof to be met is not as high. Rather, it is referred to as the “balance of probabilities” or, in other words, is it more likely than not that the situation turned out as alleged by the claimant.
The role of the lawyer is, therefore, much less demanding in civil law than it is in criminal law. On the other hand, the balance of probabilities forces the defendant to come up with more convincing evidence and a stronger argument than in a criminal trial given the lower standard.
Furthermore, civil law aims at reparation and not punishment. Therefore, we do not seek to send the other party behind bars or to punish them for their actions in any way. Civil justice aims to restore the situation for the damage suffered. Thus, the outcome of a civil lawsuit is the award of monetary compensation called damages to the injured party. However, we will speak of punitive damages when the conduct of the defendant has been particularly malicious and immoral.
The role of a lawyer in criminal and penal law
In contrast, the role of a lawyer in criminal law is very different from that in civil law in several respects. While these are two “private” lawyers who clash in civil court, criminal law forces the meeting between the prosecution (formerly the crown) against the defense.
In terms of the burden of proof, it is always on the shoulders of the prosecutor that it rests in criminal law. The defense, on the other hand, doesn’t have to prove anything and can say nothing if they so desire and simply let the crown prove it.
In terms of proof, while the balance of probabilities is the rule in civil court, criminal law is much more demanding and requires that proof beyond a reasonable doubt be established to find the accused guilty of the alleged crime.
This causes the role of the lawyer to change dramatically. At the level of the prosecutor, he has a much more demanding job to accomplish in terms of proof. On the defense side, the only job is to refute the arguments brought forward by the prosecution.
What is more, it is the level of federal government that manages criminal law, while civil law is an exclusive Quebec jurisdiction. This is information you will find helpful when finding the right lawyer.
The stages of a civil trial and the importance of choosing the right lawyer in Longueuil!
Sometimes, when a personal situation threatens to turn into a legal dispute, it can be tempting to get a lawyer right away and run to the nearest court for justice. While this is not a bad instinct, still acting with knowledge increases the chances of making a decision that truly meets your needs. Here are the main stages of a civil trial in Longueuil.
Request to institute proceedings: The declaration of war! When the initial demand is filed, hostilities begin. You tell the other party that you want to take your case to court and you blame them for certain facts at the same time. The initial demand is filed with the court, and a notice of summons will be sent to the defendant at the same time.
Response to the demand: The response to the initial demand consists of acknowledging the alleged faults or contesting them by means of a document sent to the courthouse.
Case protocol: When the defendant disputes the alleged facts, it will be time to move on to case protocol for trial. This protocol aims to clarify the rules of the trial such as the mode of communication between the parties, the information to be exchanged, and the different deadlines that each party must meet.
Defense: Defense is not the trial. It is simply the fact that the defendant recognizes some of the elements with which he is accused of, and in the event of a dispute, it consists in presenting the reasons which lead him to contest the claim.
Amicable Settlement Conference (optional): When parties wish to settle a dispute out-of-court or realizes that a lawsuit is not the right solution for anyone, they can agree to a settlement conference amicably. This meeting is conducted under the chairmanship of a judge and aims to save time.
The evidence hearing/ pleading: The hearing, on the other hand, is the actual trial in which each of the parties will present their arguments, their evidence, and their witnesses. Lawyers for each party will have the opportunity to question witnesses brought to the stand by the other. This gathering of information will allow the judge to form an opinion on the case and ultimately decide based on the balance of probabilities.
Judgment: With the conclusion of the trial, the judgment can be rendered either verbally or in writing. Oral judgments are rare and reserved for obvious situations in which the points of law are difficult to contest, even after hearing the evidence.
You will have noticed that a trial is not easy or fun. There are several steps and administrative deadlines that you must meet in order to finally win your case. This is why you need to hire the best lawyers in Longueuil to maximize your chances of winning your case in court!
What is a statute of limitations to sue? How are the he deadlines calculated?
Now that you are familiar with the facts of how to present a lawsuit in court, there is one fact that you must consider before making a request: extinctive prescription. This legal principle dictates that the right to bring an action against another for damage or a breach of contract has an expiration date which, if exceeded, has the effect of losing the right of action.
However, not all types of remedies have the same limitation periods. In fact, depending on each situation, the legislator has set specific deadlines to be observed. So here are the ones you absolutely need to know before considering filing an action!
The standard prescriptive period in matters of extinctive prescription is set at 3 years in the case of a personal right, whether it is a contractual obligation or damage suffered during a breach of the duty of care imposed on any person in accordance with the circumstances imposed on him. An example could be the situation of a person getting injured through the fault of another.
Although the common legal time limit is the “default” that applies in general situations, many different time limits apply in specific situations.
In particular, the limitation period for bringing an action for defamation is 1 year from knowledge of the defamatory remarks. It is, therefore, necessary to act quickly to bring such an action. Another example of a shortened period is the case of a civil liability lawsuit against a municipality which has a prescription period of 6 months. In addition to this requirement, the injured party must notify the city concerned within 15 days of the accident in order to preserve his recourse against the municipality.
When you have already obtained a judgment against another person but you have not yet exercised the rights conferred by that same judgment, you have 10 years to have it enforced.
As of June 2020, the previously established 30-year sexual assault statute of limitations has been abolished, allowing a victim to sue for civil liability against her attacker when she feels truly ready to do it.
Finally, the damages arising from journalistic publications are attached to a limitation period of 3 months following the publication or knowledge by the injured party of the published article.
When do you start calculating limitation period? In matters of damage and recourse in civil liability, the period begins to run from the moment when the person becomes aware of the damage he suffered. This may be on the day of the injury itself or later when it manifests itself subsequently.
How to do this calculation when the damage is progressive? When a person sustains bodily harm such as an injury, it is not uncommon for the damage to continue to worsen following the appearance of the first signs of damage. For the purpose of calculating the limitation period for progressive damage, the calculation starts on the day it first manifests itself in a significant way.
For continuous damage, for example, neighborhood disturbance, the delay is different from progressive damage. In the case of continuing damage, each day brings a new limitation period and therefore a new starting point.
What about the breach of a contractual obligation? When you wish to sue a co-contractor for his refusal to perform a contractual obligation, it is from the moment the latter fails to meet his obligations that the period begins to count.
Limitation periods can nip many remedies in the bud before they even arise. You must, therefore, be on the lookout and contact a lawyer as soon as you believe you have been the victim of an injury as he will give you the complete picture regarding the chances of success of your appeal!
The difference between acquisitive and extinctive prescription
The previous section deals mainly with extinctive prescription, that is, that which extinguishes the right to sue for damage suffered. However, there is also another type of prescription in civil law, namely, acquisitive prescription which allows the acquisition of ownership of property through the passage of time and through the effect of possession. This property can also be movable and subject to a limitation period of 3 years or even immovable and subject to a period of 10 years.
How can we stipulate whether something is movable property or real estate? For prescription to produce legal effects leading to ownership of property, the person must be in possession of the property and meet the criteria for peaceful, public, and unequivocal possession of the property. He must also have physical possession of the goods which is referred to as the “corpus” as well as the willingness to present himself as the owner of the goods, which is called “animus”.
When these conditions are met and the person who actually owns the property is dispossessed, the effects of possession begin and lead to prescription of the property.
For movable property, the limitation period is 3 years but only if the possessor is in good faith. However, we must remember that in Quebec, a person’s good faith is presumed and it is up to whoever wants to prove it to the contrary to demonstrate bad faith. When the owner of a movable property acts in bad faith, the period will be extended to 10 years.
Can limitation periods be interrupted or suspended?
For the prescription to apply, the time limit must be observed without having been interrupted or suspended. In such cases, legal effects will arise and prevent the intended effects from being achieved. Here are the main differences between prescription disturbances!
Suspension of the statute of limitations: The statute of limitations is suspended when the “statute of limitations timer” is paused, but once started again, it starts again where it left off. The most common case of suspending the prescription is when a person is in fact unable to act. We could take the example of the person who is in a coma and therefore unable to seek recourse in time.
Interruption of the limitation period: Unlike the suspension of the limitation period which only puts the period on hold, the interruption has the effect of destroying the one started. If the prescription has to start running again, it will end up back to square one. The best way to stop a prescription is to file a lawsuit or to dispossess the current owner of the property.
The waiver of the limitation period: Renouncing the limitation period consists of waiving the right that accompanies it. However, it is forbidden to waive the prescription in advance. What you should especially watch out for is the tacit waiver of prescription that can occur when a person commits an act that interrupts the prescription. Recognition of debt by partial remission of payment has such an effect!
What is legal aid and how do you check its eligibility?
Legal Aid is a government program aimed at making justice accessible to all, including the poor. This service aims to make lawyers available to low-income people either free of charge or for a modest compensation. Thousands of Quebecers use these services each year, and if you are in a similar financial situation, you could benefit too!
How do you know if you are eligible for legal aid? By consulting the eligibility criteria, which is based on your annual salary, the value of your assets, property, retirement funds, and money in the bank. Legal Aid sets up eligibility criteria for free services or for lower cost legal services.
Obviously, the lower the income, the less expensive the services of a lawyer. As a result, it is possible to receive legal aid for civil disputes such as family matters, child protection, employment insurance claims, etc.
For criminal cases, these will be taken on when a person faces a prison sentence or the person risks losing their livelihood. Criminal law cases are, therefore, not always handled by legal aid services.
However, some causes are never taken care of by legal aid! This is particularly the case with defamation suits, parking offenses, or even a divorce petition.
How to pay the best price for your lawyer?
Even though paying for a lawyer doesn’t get most people excited, paying more than necessary is certainly the most frustrating situation possible. So there are a few things you need to consider to get the best possible price according to legal industry standards. Follow these few tips to put the odds in your favor!
Compare the different experts. Lawyers are the masters of their fees. They are not accountable to anyone and are only required to respect the ethical limits imposed by their profession. It is, thus, essential to “shop around” for your lawyer a little before making your choice.
Arrive prepared. Once you have decided on the right lawyer, you will need to prepare for your meetings with him. Since most lawyers charge an hourly rate, the more prepared you arrive, the more productive the meeting will be which will save you money. Not to mention that your contribution and your ability to detail the facts accurately will help you win your case!
Ask for references from those around you. Paying the best price doesn’t always mean paying the least. It is also about getting professional service at a reasonable price. There is nothing like referrals from trusted people to have a reliable opinion on a certain expert!
Make sure your lawyer is competent. Do your own “investigation” of the lawyer you are thinking of hiring. Ask him questions about his training, his education, his professional experiences, and anything else you deem relevant to establishing a healthy professional relationship!
To pay the best price in the market and obtain the most qualified services, use Compare Lawyers to shop for the best lawyers’ quotes in the Longueuil region!
What makes a lawyer indispensable in the resolution of disputes?
Litigation is a dispute between two people taken to court for a judgment. Thus, the law is really a legal battle between two individuals that aims to settle the dispute. Although the law does not impose a requirement to be represented by a lawyer, legal assistance will go a long way in helping you win your case.
What makes a lawyer an indispensable expert is that he is trained in advocacy and civil procedure which makes him an expert in the courtroom. He knows the law inside out and what arguments are most likely to be accepted by a judge! His training for a bachelor’s degree in law at the Quebec Bar school and his internship in a professional environment, in addition to his years of experience, make him a qualified and formidable lawyer! His expertise is not to be overlooked, to say the least!
Frequently Asked Questions about law practice in Longueuil
As little is known about the practice of law, it is normal that you have some questions about how the system works and how a lawyer works. We have put together the most frequently asked questions from clients like you to guide you.
What are the requirements to practice as a lawyer?
The training leading to the title of lawyer is among the most rigorous in the professional and academic world. In fact, not only must aspiring lawyers successfully pass their bachelor’s degree in law, they must also pass the Quebec Bar School, the final exam, as well as the internship following this training. These requirements are the reason lawyers are so competent in their field, but also why their fees are expensive!
What is the typical salary of a lawyer and how does he receive his remuneration?
The average salary for the legal profession varies greatly from one area of practice to another, making the question difficult to answer. However, what is relevant is how your lawyer perceives his salary. Typical remunerations in the legal world are hourly rates, lump sum determined in advance or percentages taken from damages awarded.
What is the difference between getting legal advice and hiring a lawyer?
It is possible to seek help from a lawyer without hiring him or her to handle the entire case. Sometimes, clients only seek legal advice. These opinions are given when a lawyer analyzes his client’s situation, researches the relevant legal provisions, and then advises him on the ideal course of action based on this situation. So this is partial help for customers only looking for some advice.
What laws are applicable to your situation?
Some laws are stricter than others and some areas of law are extremely lax. Without pretending to be a budding lawyer, asking your lawyer about the laws that apply to your case will at least give you an idea of the difficulty of the case you have in hand.
What is the waiting period before receiving a judgment?
While this is beyond the control of lawyers, they have seen enough in their practice to tell you whether you should wait months, weeks, or days. The delay has an impact on the bill to pay so please don’t hesitate to ask.
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