In law, a trial is a coming together of parties to a dispute, to present information in a tribunal, a formal setting with the authority to adjudicate claims or disputes. One form of tribunal is a court; the tribunal, which may occur before a judge, jury, or other designated trier of fact, aims to achieve a resolution to their dispute. Where the trial is held before a group of members of the community, it is called a jury trial. Where the trial is held before a judge, it is called a bench trial. Hearings before administrative bodies may have many of the features of a trial before a court, but are not referred to as trials. An appellate proceeding is generally not deemed a trial, because such proceedings are restricted to review of the evidence presented before the trial court, do not permit the introduction of new evidence. Trials can be divided by the type of dispute at issue. A criminal trial is designed to resolve accusations brought against a person accused of a crime. In common law systems, most criminal defendants are entitled to a trial held before a jury.
Because the state is attempting to use its power to deprive the accused of life, liberty, or property, the rights of the accused afforded to criminal defendants are broad. The rules of criminal procedure provide rules for criminal trials. A civil trial is held to settle lawsuits or civil claims—non-criminal disputes. In some countries, the government can both be sued in a civil capacity; the rules of civil procedure provide rules for civil trials. Although administrative hearings are not ordinarily considered trials, they retain many elements found in more "formal" trial settings; when the dispute goes to judicial setting, it is called an administrative trial, to revise the administrative hearing, depending on the jurisdiction. The types of disputes handled in these hearings is governed by administrative law and auxiliarily by the civil trial law. Labor law is the body of laws, administrative rulings, precedents which address the legal rights of, restrictions on, working people and their organizations.
As such, it mediates many aspects of the relationship between trade unions and employees. In Canada, employment laws related to unionized workplaces are differentiated from those relating to particular individuals. In most countries however, no such distinction is made. However, there are two broad categories of labour law. First, collective labour law relates to the tripartite relationship between employee and union. Second, individual labour law concerns employees' rights through the contract for work; the labour movement has been instrumental in the enacting of laws protecting labour rights in the 19th and 20th centuries. Labour rights have been integral to the social and economic development since the industrial revolution. There are two primary systems for conducting a trial: Adversarial: In common law systems, an adversarial or accusatory approach is used to adjudicate guilt or innocence; the assumption is that the truth is more to emerge from the open contest between the prosecution and the defense in presenting the evidence and opposing legal arguments with a judge acting as a neutral referee and as the arbiter of the law.
In several jurisdictions in more serious cases, there is a jury to determine the facts, although some common law jurisdictions have abolished the jury trial. This polarizes the issues, with each competitor acting in its own self-interest, so presenting the facts and interpretations of the law in a deliberately biased way; the intention is that through a process of argument and counter-argument, examination-in-chief and cross-examination, each side will test the truthfulness and sufficiency of the opponent's evidence and arguments. To maintain fairness, there is a presumption of innocence, the burden of proof lies on the prosecution. Critics of the system argue. Further, the results are to be affected by structural inequalities; those defendants with resources can afford to hire the best lawyers. Some trials are—or were—of a more summary nature, as certain questions of evidence were taken as resolved. Inquisitorial: In civil law legal systems, the responsibility for supervising the investigation by the police into whether a crime has been committed falls on an examining magistrate or judge who conducts the trial.
The assumption is that the truth is more to emerge from an impartial and exhaustive investigation both before and during the trial itself. The examining magistrate or judge acts as an inquisitor who directs the fact-gathering process by questioning witnesses, interrogating the suspect, collecting other evidence; the lawyers who represent the interests of the State and the accused have a limited role to offer legal arguments and alternative interpretations to the facts that emerge during the process. All the interested parties are expected to co-operate in the investigation by answering the magistrate or judge's questions and, when asked, supplying all relevant evidence; the trial only takes place after all the evidence has been collected and the investigation is completed. Thus, most of the factual uncertainties will be resolved, the examining magistrate or judge will have resolved that there is prima facie of guilt. Critics argue that the examining magistrate or judge has too much power in that he or she will both investigate and adjudicate on the merits of the case.
Although lay assessors do sit as a form of jury to offer advice to the magistrate or judge at the conclusion of the trial, their role is subordinate. Further, because a professio
An affidavit is a written sworn statement of fact voluntarily made by an affiant or deponent under an oath or affirmation administered by a person authorized to do so by law. Such statement is witnessed as to the authenticity of the affiant's signature by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public or commissioner of oaths. An affidavit is a type of verified statement or showing, or in other words, it contains a verification, meaning it is under oath or penalty of perjury, this serves as evidence to its veracity and is required for court proceedings. Affidavits may be written depending on who drafted the document; the document's component parts are as follows: a commencement which identifies the "affiant of truth" stating that everything in it is true, under penalty of perjury, fine, or imprisonment. If an affidavit is notarized or authenticated, it will include a caption with a venue and title in reference to judicial proceedings. In some cases, an introductory clause, called a preamble, is added attesting that the affiant appeared before the authenticating authority.
On 2 March 2016, the High Court of Australia held that the ACT Uniform Evidence Legislation is neutral in the way sworn evidence and unsworn evidence is treated as being of equal weight. In Indian law, although an affidavit may be taken as proof of the facts stated therein, the Courts have no jurisdiction to admit evidence by way of affidavit. Affidavit is treated as "evidence" within the meaning of Section 3 of the Evidence Act. However, it was held by the Supreme Court that an affidavit can be used as evidence only if the Court so orders for sufficient reasons, the right of the opposite party to have the deponent produced for cross-examination. Therefore, an affidavit cannot ordinarily be used as evidence in absence of a specific order of the Court. In Sri Lanka, under the Oaths Ordinance, with the exception of court marshals, a person may submit an affidavit signed in the presence of a Commissioner for Oaths or a justice of the peace. Affidavits are made in a similar way as to England and Wales, although "make oath" is sometimes omitted.
A declaration may be substituted for an affidavit in most cases for those opposed to swearing oaths. The person making the affidavit does not sign the affidavit; the affidavit concludes in the standard format "sworn before me, a commissioner for oaths, on the at in the county/city of, I know the deponent", it is signed and stamped by the commissioner for oaths. In American jurisprudence, under the rules for hearsay, admission of an unsupported affidavit as evidence is unusual with regard to material facts which may be dispositive of the matter at bar. Affidavits from persons who are dead or otherwise incapacitated, or who cannot be located or made to appear, may be accepted by the court, but only in the presence of corroborating evidence. An affidavit which reflected a better grasp of the facts close in time to the actual events may be used to refresh a witness's recollection. Materials used to refresh recollection are admissible as evidence. If the affiant is a party in the case, the affiant's opponent may be successful in having the affidavit admitted as evidence, as statements by a party-opponent are admissible through an exception to the hearsay rule.
Affidavits are included in the response to interrogatories. Requests for admissions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 36, are not required to be sworn; some types of motions will not be accepted by the court unless accompanied by an independent sworn statement or other evidence, in support of the need for the motion. In such a case, a court will accept an affidavit from the filing attorney in support of the motion, as certain assumptions are made, to wit: The affidavit in place of sworn testimony promotes judicial economy; the lawyer is an officer of the court and knows that a false swearing by him, if found out, could be grounds for severe penalty up to and including disbarment. The lawyer if called upon would be able to present independent and more detailed evidence to prove the facts set forth in his affidavit; the acceptance of an affidavit by one society does not confirm its acceptance as a legal document in other jurisdictions. The acceptance that a lawyer is an officer of the court is not a given.
This matter is addressed by the use of the apostille, a means of certifying the legalization of a document for international use under the terms of the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. Documents which have been notarized by a notary public, certain other documents, certified with a conformant apostille, are accepted for legal use in all the nations that have signed the Hague Convention, thus most affidavits now require to be apostilled. There are various occasions or circumstances when a person needs an affidavit for a specific purpose and for that reason there are multiple as listed below: Affidavit of Support Affidavit of Residence Affidavit of Small Estate Financial Affidavit Affidavit of Death Affidavit of Name Change Divorce Affidavit Affidavit of Identity Theft Affidavit of Heirship Affidavit of Service Declaration Deposition Fishman Affidavit, a well-
Negligence is a failure to exercise appropriate and or ethical ruled care expected to be exercised amongst specified circumstances. The area of tort law known as negligence involves harm caused by failing to act as a form of carelessness with extenuating circumstances; the core concept of negligence is that people should exercise reasonable care in their actions, by taking account of the potential harm that they might foreseeably cause to other people or property. Someone who suffers loss caused by another's negligence may be able to sue for damages to compensate for their harm; such loss may include harm to property, psychiatric illness, or economic loss. The law on negligence may be assessed in general terms according to a five-part model which includes the assessment of duty, actual cause, proximate cause, damages; some things must be established by anyone. These are. Most jurisdictions say that there are four elements to a negligence action: duty: the defendant has a duty to others, including the plaintiff, to exercise reasonable care, breach: the defendant breaches that duty through an act or culpable omission, damages: as a result of that act or omission, the plaintiff suffers an injury, causation: the injury to the plaintiff is a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant's act or omission.
Some jurisdictions narrow the definition down to three elements: duty and proximately caused harm. Some jurisdictions recognize five elements, breach, actual cause, proximate cause, damages. However, at their heart, the various definitions of what constitutes negligent conduct are similar; the legal liability of a defendant to a plaintiff is based on the defendant's failure to fulfil a responsibility, recognised by law, of which the plaintiff is the intended beneficiary. The first step in determining the existence of a recognised responsibility is the concept of an obligation or duty. In the tort of negligence the term used is duty of care The case of Donoghue v Stevenson established the modern law of negligence, laying the foundations of the duty of care and the fault principle which, have been adopted throughout the Commonwealth. May Donoghue and her friend were in a café in Paisley; the friend bought Mrs Donoghue. She drank some of the beer and poured the remainder over her ice-cream and was horrified to see the decomposed remains of a snail exit the bottle.
Donoghue suffered nervous shock and gastro-enteritis, but did not sue the cafe owner, instead suing the manufacturer, Stevenson.. The Scottish judge, Lord MacMillan, considered the case to fall within a new category of delict; the case proceeded to the House of Lords, where Lord Atkin interpreted the biblical ordinance to'love thy neighbour' as a legal requirement to'not harm thy neighbour.' He went on to define neighbour as "persons who are so and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions that are called in question." In England the more recent case of Caparo Industries Plc v Dickman introduced a'threefold test' for a duty of care. Harm must be reasonably foreseeable there must be a relationship of proximity between the plaintiff and defendant and it must be'fair and reasonable' to impose liability. However, these act as guidelines for the courts in establishing a duty of care. In Australia, Donoghue v Stevenson was used as a persuasive precedent in the case of Grant v Australian Knitting Mills.
This was a landmark case in the development of negligence law in Australia. Whether a duty of care is owed for psychiatric, as opposed to physical, harm was discussed in the Australian case of Tame v State of New South Wales. Determining a duty for mental harm has now been subsumed into the Civil Liability Act 2002 in New South Wales; the application of Part 3 of the Civil Liability Act 2002 was demonstrated in Wicks v SRA. Once it is established that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff/claimant, the matter of whether or not that duty was breached must be settled; the test is both objective. The defendant who knowingly exposes the plaintiff/claimant to a substantial risk of loss, breaches that duty; the defendant who fails to realize the substantial risk of loss to the plaintiff/claimant, which any reasonable person in the same situation would have realized breaches that duty. However, whether the test is objective or subjective may depend upon the particular case involved. There is a reduced threshold for the standard of care owed by children.
In the Australian case of McHale v Watson, McHale, a 9-year-old girl was blinded in one eye after being hit by the ricochet of a sharp metal rod thrown by a 12-year-old boy, Watson. The defendant child was held not to have the level of care to the standard of an adult, but of a 12-year-old child with similar experience and intelligence. Kitto J explained that a child's lack of foresight is a characteristic they share with others at that stage of development. Certain jurisdictions provide for breaches where professionals, such as doctors, fail to warn of risks assoc
Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the Science of Justice" and "the Art of Justice". Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process; the formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people. A general distinction can be made between civil law jurisdictions, in which a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates their laws, common law systems, where judge-made precedent is accepted as binding law.
Religious laws played a significant role in settling of secular matters, is still used in some religious communities. Islamic Sharia law is the world's most used religious law, is used as the primary legal system in some countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia; the adjudication of the law is divided into two main areas. Criminal law deals with conduct, considered harmful to social order and in which the guilty party may be imprisoned or fined. Civil law deals with the resolution of lawsuits between individuals and/or organizations. Law provides a source of scholarly inquiry into legal history, economic analysis and sociology. Law raises important and complex issues concerning equality and justice. Numerous definitions of law have been put forward over the centuries; the Third New International Dictionary from Merriam-Webster defines law as: "Law is a binding custom or practice of a community. The Dictionary of the History of Ideas published by Scribner's in 1973 defined the concept of law accordingly as: "A legal system is the most explicit, institutionalized, complex mode of regulating human conduct.
At the same time, it plays only one part in the congeries of rules which influence behavior, for social and moral rules of a less institutionalized kind are of great importance." There have been several attempts to produce "a universally acceptable definition of law". In 1972, one source indicated. McCoubrey and White said that the question "what is law?" has no simple answer. Glanville Williams said that the meaning of the word "law" depends on the context in which that word is used, he said that, for example, "early customary law" and "municipal law" were contexts where the word "law" had two different and irreconcilable meanings. Thurman Arnold said that it is obvious that it is impossible to define the word "law" and that it is equally obvious that the struggle to define that word should not be abandoned, it is possible to take the view that there is no need to define the word "law". The history of law links to the development of civilization. Ancient Egyptian law, dating as far back as 3000 BC, contained a civil code, broken into twelve books.
It was based on the concept of Ma'at, characterised by tradition, rhetorical speech, social equality and impartiality. By the 22nd century BC, the ancient Sumerian ruler Ur-Nammu had formulated the first law code, which consisted of casuistic statements. Around 1760 BC, King Hammurabi further developed Babylonian law, by codifying and inscribing it in stone. Hammurabi placed several copies of his law code throughout the kingdom of Babylon as stelae, for the entire public to see; the most intact copy of these stelae was discovered in the 19th century by British Assyriologists, has since been transliterated and translated into various languages, including English, Italian and French. The Old Testament dates back to 1280 BC and takes the form of moral imperatives as recommendations for a good society; the small Greek city-state, ancient Athens, from about the 8th century BC was the first society to be based on broad inclusion of its citizenry, excluding women and the slave class. However, Athens had no legal science or single word for "law", relying instead on the three-way distinction between divine law, human decree and custom.
Yet Ancient Greek law contained major constitutional innovations in the development of democracy. Roman law was influenced by Greek philosophy, but its detailed rules were developed by professional jurists and were sophisticated. Over the centuries between the rise and decline of the Roman Empire, law was adapted to cope with the changing social situations and underwent major codification under Theodosius II and Justinian I. Although codes were replaced by custom and case law during the Dark Ages, Roman law was rediscovered around the 11th century when medieval legal scholars began to research Roman codes and adapt their concepts. Latin legal maxims were compiled for guidance. In medieval England, royal
Discovery, in the law of common law jurisdictions, is a pre-trial procedure in a lawsuit in which each party, through the law of civil procedure, can obtain evidence from the other party or parties by means of discovery devices such as interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for admissions and depositions. Discovery can be obtained from non-parties using subpoenas; when a discovery request is objected to, the requesting party may seek the assistance of the court by filing a motion to compel discovery. Discovery evolved out of an unique feature of early equitable pleading procedure before the English Court of Chancery: among various requirements, a plaintiff's bill in equity was required to plead "positions." These were statements of evidence that the plaintiff assumed to exist in support of his pleading and which he believed lay within the knowledge of the defendant. They resembled modern requests for admissions, in that the defendant was required to plead only whether they were true or false.
At some point between the reign of Elizabeth I and the late seventeenth century, positions were replaced by interrogatories—written questions which the defendant was required to respond to in his answer to the bill based on information within his own personal knowledge as well as documents in his possession. But back interrogatories could only elicit admissible evidence and could only request evidence in support of the plaintiff's case, not either side's case. Worse, this was purely a one-way procedure, because interrogatories could only be pleaded as part of a bill. A defendant who needed to obtain evidence in support of his defenses had to file a cross-bill against the plaintiff to plead his own interrogatories. Discovery did not exist at common law, but its availability in equity attracted litigants in actions at law, they began to file bills in equity to obtain discovery in aid of actions at law. This led to another innovation in the mid-15th century: the bill to perpetuate testimony of a potential witness.
This was for witnesses whose advanced age or poor health implied they would not survive to testify at the trial of an action at law. In this type of proceeding, the parties pleaded written interrogatories which a commission would ask the witness on their behalf without parties or counsel present; the recorded answers were sealed and were not revealed to parties or counsel until shortly before the trial in which they were to be used. Major reforms enacted in New York in the late 1840s and in England in the early 1850s laid the foundation for the rise of modern discovery by imposing a clear separation between pleadings and discovery as distinct phases of procedural law. Discovery devices could now be invoked independently of the pleadings; the New York reforms went much farther, by directly merging common law and equity procedure, by expressly authorizing a new discovery device. Parties and their attorneys could now demand pretrial oral examination of opposing parties and third-party witnesses, the basis of the modern deposition.
Under the law of the United States, civil discovery is wide-ranging and may seek disclosure of information, reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. This is a much broader standard than relevance, because it contemplates the exploration of evidence which might be relevant, rather than evidence, relevant. Certain types of information are protected from discovery. Other types of information may be protected, depending on the type of case and the status of the party. For instance, juvenile criminal records are not discoverable, peer review findings by hospitals in medical negligence cases are not discoverable and, depending on the case, other types of evidence may be non-discoverable for reasons of privacy, difficulty and/or expense in complying and for other reasons. Electronic discovery or "e-discovery" refers to discovery of information stored in electronic format. In practice, most civil cases in the United States are settled after discovery. After discovery, both sides are in agreement about the relative strength and weaknesses of each side's case and this results in either a settlement or summary judgment, which eliminates the expense and risks of a trial.
Discovery is available in criminal cases. Under the rule set forth in Brady v. Maryland, the prosecutor is obligated to provide to the defendant any information, exculpatory or exculpatory, without any request by the defense. Further discovery is available. For example, a discovery demand might be for production of the names of witnesses, witness statements, information about evidence, a request for opportunity to inspect tangible evidence, for any reports prepared by expert witnesses who will testify at trial. If a defendant in a criminal case requests discovery from the prosecution, the prosecutor may request reciprocal discovery; the prosecutor's right to discovery is deemed reciprocal as it arises from the defendant's reque
Service of process
Service of process is the procedure by which a party to a lawsuit gives an appropriate notice of initial legal action to another party, court, or administrative body in an effort to exercise jurisdiction over that person so as to enable that person to respond to the proceeding before the court, body, or other tribunal. Notice is furnished by delivering a set of court documents to the person to be served; each jurisdiction has rules regarding the appropriate service of process. A summons and other related documents must be served upon the defendant or in some cases upon another person of suitable age and discretion at the person's residence or place of business or employment. In some cases, service of process may be effected through the mail as in some small claims court procedures. In exceptional cases, other forms of service may be authorized by procedural rules or court order, including service by publication when an individual cannot be located in a particular jurisdiction. Proper service of process establishes personal jurisdiction of the court over the person served.
If the defendant ignores further pleadings or fails to participate in the proceedings the court or administrative body may find the defendant in default and award relief to the claimant, petitioner or plaintiff. The defendant may contest the default in her home state. Service of process must be distinguished from service of subsequent documents between the parties to litigation. Service of process in cases filed in the United States district courts is governed by Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In England and Wales, the rules governing service of documents are contained within Part 6 of the Civil Procedure Rules 1998. In Canada the rules vary from province to province and can be governed differently depending on what the type of case. Service on a defendant who resides in a country outside the jurisdiction of the Court must comply with special procedures prescribed under the Hague Service Convention, if the recipient's country is a signatory. Service on defendants in many South American countries and some other countries is effected through the letter rogatory process.
Where a defendant's whereabouts are unknown, the Court may permit service by publication in a newspaper. When an individual party to be served is unavailable for personal service, many jurisdictions allow for substituted service. Substituted service allows the process server to leave service documents with another responsible individual, called a person of suitable age and discretion, such as a cohabiting adult or a teenager. Under the U. S. Federal Rules, substituted service may only be made at the dwelling of the defendant. California, New York and many other United States jurisdictions require that in addition to substituted service, the documents be mailed to the recipient. Substituted service requires a serving party show that ordinary service is impracticable, that due diligence has been made to attempt to make personal service by delivery, that substituted service will reach the party and effect notice. Another method of substituted service is "service by publication" called "constructive service" in some jurisdictions.
Service by publication is used to give "constructive notice" to a defendant, intentionally absent, in hiding, or unknown, only when allowed by a judge's order based on a sworn declaration of the inability to find the defendant after "due diligence". Service by publication is used in a divorce action to serve a spouse who has disappeared without leaving a forwarding address. Service by publication involves placing the petition for divorce and the summons to a missing spouse in a local newspaper. In divorce cases, most states that permit service by publication will require "due diligence" to locate the missing spouse to include: verifying with the post office that there is no forwarding address. In addition, in some jurisdictions, substituted service may be effected through motion and public notice, followed by sending the documents by certified mail. Courts in at least two Canadian provincial jurisdictions have allowed for substituted service via Facebook. In 2018, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice allowed service via Instagram and LinkedIn's built-in messaging systems.
Service by mail is permitted by most U. S. jurisdictions for service on defendants located in other U. S. states or foreign countries. Service by mail is not available if the country of destination has filed objections to service by mail pursuant to the multinational Hague Service Convention. In California, "Any person providing the with a mailing address shall … consent to receive service of process …"; as a substitute for personal service by a process server, some jurisdictions may allow voluntary acceptance of service called waiver of service. It means that the served party agrees to voluntarily acknowledge receipt of the complaint or petition without the need to engage a process server. Acceptance or waiver of service is encouraged by some court systems U. S. federal courts. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4, when a defendant refuses to waive service "without good cause", the defendant can be held liable for the cost of personal service. However, in general, individual service by a process server is the best way to effect service of process, as it a
In legal terminology, a complaint is any formal legal document that sets out the facts and legal reasons that the filing party or parties believes are sufficient to support a claim against the party or parties against whom the claim is brought that entitles the plaintiff to a remedy. For example, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that govern civil litigation in United States courts provide that a civil action is commenced with the filing or service of a pleading called a complaint. Civil court rules in states that have incorporated the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure use the same term for the same pleading. In Civil Law, a “complaint” is the first formal action taken to begin a lawsuit; this written document contains the allegations against the defense, the specific laws violated, the facts that led to the dispute, any demands made by the plaintiff to restore justice. In some jurisdictions, specific types of criminal cases may be commenced by the filing of a complaint sometimes called a criminal complaint or felony complaint.
Most criminal cases are prosecuted in the name of the governmental authority that promulgates criminal statutes and enforces the police power of the state with the goal of seeking criminal sanctions, such as the State or Crown. In the United States, the complaint is associated with misdemeanor criminal charges presented by the prosecutor without the grand jury process. In most U. S. jurisdictions, the charging instrument presented to and authorized by a grand jury is referred to as an indictment. Every U. S. state has some forms available on the web for most common complaints for lawyers and self-representing litigants. Several United States federal courts publish general guidelines for the petitioners and Civil Rights complaint forms. A complaint has the following structural elements: Caption and Heading - lists name and telephone number of the filing attorney or self-representing litigant at the top of the complaint; the case caption also indicates the court in which the case originates, names of the parties and a brief description of the document.
Jurisdiction and venue - this section describes why the case should be heard in the selected court rather than some other court or forum. Parties - identifies plaintiffs and defendants. Definitions - optional section which defines some terms used throughout the document; the main purpose of a definition is to achieve clarity without needless repetition. Statement of facts - lists facts that brought the case to the court. Cause of Action - a numbered list of legal allegations, with specific details about application of the governing law to each count. In this section the plaintiff cites existing Law, previous decisions of the court where the case is being processed, decisions of the higher appellate courts, cases from other courts, - as an analogy to resolve similar questions of law. Injury - plaintiff explains to the judge how the actions of the defendant harmed his rights. Demand for relief - describes the relief; the relief can include a request for declaratory judgment, a request for injunctive relief and actual damages, punitive damages, other relief.
After the complaint has been filed with the court, it has to be properly served to the opposite parties, but petitioners are not allowed to serve the complaint personally. The court can issue a summons - an official summary document which the plaintiff needs to have served together with the complaint; the defendants have limited time to respond, depending on the State or Federal rules. A defendant's failure to answer a complaint can result in a default judgment in favor of the petitioner. For example, in United States federal courts, any person, at least 18 years old and not a party may serve a summons and complaint in a civil case; the defendant must submit an answer within 21 days after being served with the summons and complaint, or request a waiver, according to FRCP Rule 12. After the civil complaint has been served to the defendants, the plaintiff must, as soon as practicable initiate a conference between the parties to plan for the rest of the discovery process and the parties should submit a proposed discovery plan to the judge within 14 days after the conference.
In many U. S. jurisdictions, a complaint submitted to a court must be accompanied by a Case Information Statement, which sets forth specific key information about the case and the lawyers representing the parties. This allows the judge to make determinations about which deadlines to set for different phases of the case, as it moves through the court system. There are freely accessible web search engines to assist parties in finding court decisions that can be cited in the complaint as an example or analogy to resolve similar questions of law. Google Scholar is the biggest database of full text state and federal courts decisions that can be accessed without charge; these web search engines allow one to select specific state courts to search. Federal courts created the Public Access to Court Electronic Records system to obtain case and docket information from the United States district courts, United States courts of appeals, United States bankruptcy courts; the system is managed by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.