When businesses in Alberta are involved in a civil litigation, the claims involved generally stem from disputes over contracts or losses suffered due to torts such as negligence or defamation. The term tort is derived from the Latin word “tortus,” which means “wrong.” Torts are separated into two classes. Intentional torts occur when one party injures another due to a conscious action such as making a statement or performing a physical act. An unintentional tort, such as negligence, occurs when injury results from insufficient care being taken.
An example of a business pursuing civil litigation over an intentional tort would be a defamation lawsuit brought against a competitor that had made untrue or grossly misleading statements in their advertising. A civil action taken against an individual who threw a stone through a shop window would also deal with an intentional tort. This type of legal action is often relatively straightforward as the act involved was overt and liability is generally clear.
Claims of negligence may be more problematic as the plaintiff in this type of case must establish liability by proving that the defendant owed them a duty of care. They must then show that injury, loss or damage was suffered because the defendant did not take adequate steps to meet this standard. Courts generally decide these matters by considering what a reasonable individual would have thought or done in the situation.
Being involved in a lawsuit, either as a plaintiff or a defendant, is common for an Alberta business. A lawyer with business litigation experience may be able to offer advice regarding the legal arguments that will likely arise if a lawsuit were to reach court. A lawyer could also call upon their experience during settlement discussions as they seek to find an amicable way to avoid the uncertainty of a courtroom decision.
Source: Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, “Process of justice in civil law”, November 25, 2014