In many cases in which people in Alberta file civil lawsuits to recover damages sustained, they are unfamiliar with the legal and court proceedings that will follow. The defendant can offer to settle the claim at any stage, even after a court date has been set. When this happens, the plaintiff may not know how to proceed. In most cases, a lawyer with experience in civil litigation can provide valuable advice and guidance.
If the plaintiff receives an offer from the defendant to settle without going to court, the plaintiff has the right to refuse or accept the offer. If the offer is accepted, the defendant can pay the settlement amount into court or directly to the plaintiff. Direct payment will require the plaintiff to issue a dated receipt that contains the amount that was paid, and all the parties must sign it. If the amount is paid to the court, without first negotiating with the plaintiff, the clerk of the court will inform the plaintiff of the offer, and allow 30 days for refusing or accepting the order.
For direct settlements, the plaintiff must file a Notice of Withdrawal to inform the court that the case will not proceed to litigation. If the plaintiff accepts the offer of money paid into court, the plaintiff will receive a cheque after the defendant’s payment has been cleared by the bank. At this time, the plaintiff will also receive Notice of Withdrawal forms to complete and file.
If, however, the plaintiff does not accept the offer, the case will proceed to court. This is a complicated field of the law, and an Alberta lawyer who is experienced in civil litigation is typically the best choice to navigate it. The lawyer can also provide valuable advocacy to assist the plaintiff in considering a settlement offer. If the case proceeds to court, the plaintiff can benefit from having skilled legal counsel in his or her corner.