DC Contract Dispute Litigation Process

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is often a useful tool for dealing with business disagreements. Unfortunately, this system is not always successful. If your contract dispute could not be solved through ADR, you may need to take your case to court.

With the help of an experienced breach of contract attorney, you could seek a positive resolution to your case. Reach out to the office today to learn more about the DC contract dispute litigation process.

Filing Contract Disputes in DC Courts

The jurisdiction for a contract dispute depends on where the parties are located or doing business. For example, if the defendant is doing business in the District of Columbia but lives elsewhere, the plaintiff could still file a suit in DC Courts.

The Superior Court and the United States District Court for the District of Columbia both have the authority to handle contract disputes. However, these courts hear different types of claims.

Minor disputes should be filed in a small claims branch of the Superior Court. Disputes between a landlord and a tenant may be filed in the landlord-tenant division.

General contracts that are valued over $25,000 are typically disputed in the Superior Court civil branch. A local attorney could help filing parties determine which court should hear their contract dispute case.

Litigation Process in the District of Columbia

Just like any other civil case, litigating a contract dispute in DC involves pleadings, complaints, written discovery, and damages. These types of proceedings focus on the existence of a contract and each party’s performance under that agreement

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Contract disputes are often jury trials, which means they are tried in front of a group of impartial people. Before the trial begins, both parties have the opportunity to question jurors to determine if they are biased. Although, if both parties elect for a bench trial, the case will be tried only in front of a judge.

Opening Statements

Once the trial begins, the plaintiff addresses the court with their opening statement. The defense counsel then follows with their statement.

Presenting Evidence

After opening statements, both parties use evidence to present their case. In a contract dispute, evidence could include the written agreement, emails, financial records, and any other relevant documents. The plaintiff might use this evidence to show both the breach of the contract and the impact of that violation.

Witness Testimony

Either party may also call on witnesses to testify at trial. Any person or entity that handled an aspect of the contract could be a witness, and their testimony may be critical to the case.

Closing Statements

Once both parties have presented all their evidence and called any witnesses, it is time for closing statements. A lawyer with a focus in contract dispute litigation could support a plaintiff through all aspects of court proceedings.

Length of Contract Dispute Litigation

The length of contract dispute litigation depends on the severity of the issue and the complexity of the contract. In the District, this type of case could last up to 18 months.

There may be other factors that contribute to the length of a case. For example, the court could make a decision about a certain aspect of a case quickly and grant summary judgment. If the court issues a ruling that ends, it could also speed up the litigation process.

A contract dispute litigation attorney could help ensure a plaintiff’s case is tried as efficiently as possible.

Talk to an Attorney About the DC Contract Dispute Litigation Process

If you have been unable to settle your contract dispute outside of court, litigation may be a good option. The trial process can be lengthy and complex, so it is best to seek guidance from a legal professional. Call today to speak with an attorney about the DC contract dispute litigation process.