The process of resolving disputes through the court system by filing a lawsuit.

Litigation involves resolving legal disputes and controversies through the civil court system by initiating a lawsuit. It involves one party, the plaintiff, filing a complaint against another party, the defendant, and having the disputed issues adjudicated and resolved by a judge or jury after an adversarial process.

The litigation process unfolds in a sequence, starting with the plaintiff filing a lawsuit and serving a complaint that outlines their allegations and claims against the defendant. This action prompts the defendant to respond and assert defenses, initiating a pre-trial phase that involves processes like discovery of evidence, motions, and settlement negotiations between the parties.

If the case is not settled or dismissed in the first phase, it proceeds to trial, where each side presents evidence and arguments. The ultimate decision on fault and damages rests with the judge or jury, who will render a verdict. The losing party usually can appeal the decision to higher courts based on specific legal grounds.

Litigation provides a formal judicial mechanism to compel parties to produce evidence and testimony under oath. However, it is often criticized as being adversarial, costly, time-consuming, and public compared to alternative dispute resolution methods like arbitration or mediation.

Despite the downsides, litigation is sometimes necessary to resolve high-stakes disputes, establish legal precedents, interpret laws and rights, and enforce binding judgments when other resolution methods fail. The threat of litigation also incentivizes compromise by parties looking to avoid its expenses.

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