A civil lawsuit is a legal procedure that deals with civil issues. As part of such a lawsuit, you will never be able to get relief in which the defendant will be sent to prison. Such a remedy is reserved for "criminal prosecution", which can only be filed by the prosecutor's office on behalf of the state.
Before filing a civil lawsuit, you need to understand the following: civil lawsuits are not an ATMs and not everyone who files a civil lawsuit in court will necessarily win their lawsuit, and not in any case the plaintiff will receive a high monetary compensation (or at all). In many cases, an unfounded claim may be rejected while charging the plaintiff with court costs (sometimes the amounts are very high).
This is exactly the reason why you should prepare properly before submitting any claim to the court, and contact an experienced civil claims lawyer to accompany you throughout the entire procedure. Later in this article you will find out what you should do to increase the chances of success in a civil lawsuit.
For over a decade, our office has very successfully accompanied many plaintiffs and defendants in civil lawsuits. If you need legal assistance in this matter, you are welcome to contact our office.
What is a civil lawsuit?
A civil lawsuit is a legal procedure that is usually conducted according to the regulations of the civil procedure , in which relief is usually required in the form of financial compensation or some kind of order (for example: an injunction , a restraining order , a garnishment order ). Civil lawsuit can be filed as a tort claim , a class action , a claim before the inspector of condominiums , a claim in the field of family law, a claim in the field of labor law, etc., and the claimant can be any legally qualified person, or another entity (for example: a company, an association , or even the state).
On the other hand, as part of a criminal proceeding, a prison sentence, community service, probation, and not monetary relief is usually required. In the framework of a criminal proceeding, the "plaintiff" is the state and not the person or entity that was actually damaged.
1. Before filing a civil lawsuit you need to collect evidence
In any dispute (small or large) you should always think one step ahead and assume that there will be no escape and you will have to file a lawsuit. In these circumstances, it is highly recommended that things be documented through recordings of telephone conversations or in writing (email, WhatsApp messages, messenger correspondence, etc.).
Once you have correspondence or recordings, it will be much simpler to conduct a civil lawsuit because it will be simple to prove the facts, and it will be much more difficult for the defendant to claim that things happened in a way that benefits him (thus complicating the civil trial).
2. Send a warning letter before filing a civil lawsuit
Sending a warning letter before filing a civil lawsuit has many advantages and it is recommended to consider a warning letter to the defendant before filing any lawsuit. As part of the warning letter, you must briefly describe (the warning letter is not a substitute for the lawsuit) your claims and demands and allow the other party to respond to the letter within 7-14 days.
In a small number of cases, the person who receives the warning letter will agree to your demands and thus you will save yourself the conduct of a long and expensive civil trial. In most cases, you will receive a response letter in which all your requirements will be rejected.
At the same time, you will also receive an explanation (sometimes very short) why your claims are wrong (in the eyes of the future defendant). This version has a lot of meaning because the future defendant will have difficulty changing his version later, and on the other hand, you will know, thanks to the response letter, how to formulate the statement of claim more correctly , which may increase your chances of success in your claim.
3. Which court to file a civil lawsuit?
The filing of a civil lawsuit is carried out according to the regulations of the civil procedure . In order to decide which court to submit the claim to, you need to know what the subject of the claim is, the amount of the claim, and sometimes also the location of the defendant's residence or business.
Sometimes it is possible to file a claim in several different courts (for example, the Small Claims Court and the Court of Justice). The decision of where to file the claim is up to the plaintiff and he is the one who has to consider several considerations. For example: Does he want to manage the claim himself (and submit the claim to a small claims court) or use the services of a claims lawyer (and submit the claim to the Magistrate's Court)?
Another issue that should be taken into account is the location of the court where a civil lawsuit will be filed. The courts in Israel are divided according to jurisdictional areas so that, for example, a claim that can be filed in Rishon Lezion, can also be filed in Netanya (the cities are considered in the same jurisdiction), but cannot be filed in Ashdod (belongs to a different jurisdiction).
This matter may sometimes be critical for a number of reasons: 1. It is possible that a court in one city is much more busy than a court in another city. If your goal is to reach a result as quickly as possible, you will probably prefer to choose the same court where "things move faster". 2. You may know from previous experience that in a court in one city the judges are more "comfortable" (it is easier to convince them, they have previously ruled in a way that suits your claim, etc.). In this situation, you will probably prefer to choose a court that will serve your interest in the best way.
4. Filing a civil lawsuit sometimes involves significant financial expenses
This issue is less relevant to everything related to filing a small claim because this procedure was initially intended for simple issues and is limited in terms of the amount of the claim that can be claimed (currently about 36.5 thousand NIS). At the same time, if you are considering filing civil claims for larger amounts or In issues that are not within the jurisdiction of a small claims court, you should be aware of the following expenses.
Almost every civil procedure involves the payment of a court fee . Before filing any financial claim in a magistrate or district court, you will have to pay a fee of 2.5 percent of the amount of the claim. You will have to pay 1.25% of the amount of the claim immediately upon filing the claim, and the other half of the fee you will have to pay before the hearing of the evidence (the main hearing in every civil trial that takes place at least, and often much longer, six months after the filing of the claim).
This is a fee that you will have to pay to the lawyer who will file a civil lawsuit on your behalf and represent you during the trial. There is no fixed price list according to which the lawyers act. Fees in each case are determined individually according to the complexity of each case. Usually, the more complex the issue, the higher the fees may be (for example; according to media reports, the fees Binyamin Netanyahu pays to his lawyers are estimated at millions of shekels).
In some cases, the lawyer may agree to conduct a civil trial and receive his fees based on success/percentage of the winnings. This type of payment is mainly used in tort law (traffic accidents, work accidents).
Fees for experts
Sometimes a civil trial will be conducted and the issue in dispute will not be legal but an issue related to a certain field of expertise, for example a medical issue. Since the judge is not a doctor and is not familiar with medical issues, in order to succeed in such a claim it is necessary to submit an opinion on behalf of an expert doctor in order for him to explain to the court exactly what the medical damages were caused and whose fault they were caused (for example: if it is a case dealing with medical negligence and your claim is that a doctor was negligent in his position and caused you significant damage).
Without the ability to finance these and other expenses, it may be difficult to conduct a civil lawsuit
The one who is responsible for paying the expenses mentioned so far (and other expenses) is the customer. Filing a claim without the ability to finance all the expenses mentioned so far may spell the fate of the claim in advance. For this reason, before filing a claim, you should do a market survey and check how much a lawyer's services will cost you for your claim, and how much an expert opinion might cost. Depending on the findings, you will understand whether you can bear the costs.
5. Not every lawyer knows and can conduct a civil lawsuit
Like doctors, lawyers also specialize in different fields, and like a doctor, not every lawyer knows how to help you with every legal issue. There are lawyers who specialize, for example, in drawing up contracts but do not deal with litigation (representation in court) at all. It is not certain that a lawyer who only deals with contracts will be the right choice to represent in a civil trial.
Choosing a lawyer should be done based on experience and not based on price
A common mistake I encounter a lot is choosing a lawyer based on the cheapest price. Focusing on the cheapest price does not lead to choosing the most appropriate lawyer for the legal issue you have encountered. You probably don't choose the cheapest doctor, the cheapest designer, the cheapest contractor, etc.
By the same logic, it would be a mistake to necessarily choose the cheapest lawyer, because you may be surprised to find out that the cheapest lawyer is not knowledgeable at all, or not sufficiently knowledgeable about the legal issue that is relevant to you, and will not be able to represent you well in a civil trial.
Another thing you need to consider is that changing a lawyer in the middle of the trial may cost you additional or even higher amounts of money, because correcting mistakes made by another lawyer may involve a lot of work. Remember – the cheapest may cost you dearly.
How to choose a lawyer to manage a civil lawsuit?
First, try to locate civil lawsuits similar to the issue you are considering filing a lawsuit. In the age of the Internet, this is not a complex task. Try to check who represented the plaintiffs (or defendants) in those lawsuits and how they ended. If the result was positive, you can consider contacting that lawyer so that he can examine your case and inform you whether a similar result can be reached in your case as well.
Recommendations – do you know someone who has filed a civil lawsuit? Talk to him and try to get his opinion on the lawyer who will represent him in the trial. Try to find out what the subject of the claim was and what the outcome was, and of course whether the lawyer was available for the client's questions (in some cases lawyers are not available and do not return to clients who are looking for them – and this can be particularly frustrating).
Is the lawyer the one who will handle your claim or an intern on his behalf – many law firms employ interns or junior lawyers. They are usually the ones who will handle your claim and not the lawyer you met with. It is important to make sure before signing the fee agreement who will actually handle your claim – is it the same experienced lawyer or a junior lawyer or an intern from his office.
I hope this article helped you understand what to do before filing a civil lawsuit. If you are considering filing a claim in an amount exceeding 100 thousand NIS or if you need to defend yourself against a claim, you are invited to contact our office for the purpose of examining the chances of success in your case.
As part of a civil lawsuit, financial relief or some sort of order is often required. As part of such a claim, several remedies can be combined and demanded (for example, financial relief, both an injunction and a restraining order).
Before filing a civil lawsuit, you should do preparatory work and collect data that may help later. It is not wise to file a lawsuit and only then collect data because this may require submitting a request to amend a statement of claim and this may return the procedure to the beginning, which is not desirable from the plaintiff's point of view (among other things because the plaintiff will usually have to pay court costs because the defendant will have to submit an amended statement of defense ).
You should consider sending a warning letter before filing a civil lawsuit. At least in some cases this may make the procedure redundant or at least help you understand the opposing party's position, which may contribute to the preparation of the statement of claim in a more correct and intelligent way.
The amount of damages claimed as part of a civil lawsuit affects the court to which the lawsuit will actually be filed. Up to NIS 2.5 million, the claim will be submitted to the secretariat of the Magistrate's Court . Above NIS 2.5 million, the claim will be submitted to the district court secretariat.
It is very important to use the services of a civil claims lawyer experienced in this type of proceedings. This will significantly increase your chances of success.