Do you have a legal problem? Are you and your family having disputes relating to property or other matters? When legal disputes arise, a civil litigation lawyer’s role is to help resolve the dispute, whether it’s by private out-of-court settlement or by taking the matter to the Courts if necessary. Not every dispute requires the Court to resolve the issue, but a good litigation lawyer can assist you to navigate the legal process and the Courts on your behalf to achieve a favourable result that may not require a long, costly trial. As Sun Tzu once wrote: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” At Bernard Lau and Co., we utilize a diverse array of legal options and tactics, not just trial, to help resolve your legal issue. Below, we’ll explore what civil litigation lawyers do in more detail and the stages of a typical litigation matter.
What Is Civil Litigation?
Civil litigation refers to resolving non-criminal disputes through the court system. These disputes can encompass many issues, such as contract disputes, personal injury claims, property disputes, employment disagreements and more. Civil litigation lawyers represent clients on either side of a dispute, guiding them through the legal process and advocating for their best interests.
At Bernard Lau and Co. we have extensive experience assisting clients on resolving real estate disputes, defamation and general contracts matters.
Case Assessment and Investigation
First, your lawyer conducts a thorough assessment of your case. They meticulously examine your claim’s facts, evidence and legal merits. That may involve reviewing documents, conducting legal research, interviewing witnesses and consulting with relevant experts. This comprehensive assessment allows your civil litigation lawyer to formulate a strategic plan and assess your case’s strengths and weaknesses. It also helps them decide if your case is worth taking through trial, or through alternate means like mediation or arbitration.
Pleadings and Pre-trial Proceedings
Once the initial assessment is complete, and if it’s decided to proceed in court, civil litigation lawyers draft and file the necessary legal documents to initiate (or defend) the lawsuit. These documents, known as pleadings, typically consist of a plaintiff’s notice of civil claim and a defendant’s response to civil claim. Your lawyer ensures that the pleadings accurately reflect your position and lays the groundwork for further legal arguments. At this stage, lawyers play a crucial role in negotiating settlements and resolving disputes out of court since many cases often settle once the pleadings are filed.
Discovery and Fact-Finding
During the discovery phase, parties exchange information and evidence. This process helps each side understand the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing case. Civil litigation lawyers analyze the evidence, cross-examine the opposing side and prepare you for your own cross-examination. Discovery is one of the most important stages of litigation, as your lawyer can uncover crucial details, identify key witnesses and gather critical evidence and admissions during this phase that can ultimately persuade the other side to settle the case in your favour or bolster your case for trial.
Trial and Advocacy
Cases may often proceed to trial if the dispute remains unresolved through pre-trial proceedings or alternative dispute resolution. At trial, a civil litigation lawyer’s role is to advocate for your interests in the courtroom. They present evidence, cross-examine witnesses and make compelling legal arguments on your behalf with the ultimate aim to persuade the judge that your position is the correct one..
Lawyers are also responsible for post-trial proceedings such as calculating trial costs, recovery of judgment and other post-trial matters that need to be dealt with after the trial has concluded.If you are dissatisfied with the outcome, your civil litigation lawyer can file an appeal, requesting a higher court to review the case for any errors in law that the trial judge may have made. Your appeal lawyer can assess the merits of the appeal, prepare appellate briefs, make oral arguments and advocate for you before the appellate court.
Your Civil Litigation Lawyer in Richmond and Metro Vancouver
The role of a civil litigation attorney involves a diverse array of responsibilities. It requires a strong comprehension of the legal framework, the Supreme Court Rules and a tactical methodology to address disputes effectively. Not all disputes need to be resolved at trial. If your litigation lawyer has prepared effectively to make a strong case for settlement in your favour, you may be able to achieve a favourable settlement outcome without the costs, stress and uncertainty of trial.
At Bernard Lau and Co., our lawyers have extensive litigation and courtroom trial experience, including high-profile successful trial outcomes as reported in the media. However, we have also settled cases with favourable outcomes for our clients on the strength of the extensive preparation that we do on our clients’ behalf. We have the knowledge and experience to craft a comprehensive legal plan tailored to your unique situation.. Our team prioritizes your needs and interests, ensuring they are at the forefront of every strategy.
The content on this website is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Users of this website are advised to seek specific legal advice by contacting members of Bernard Lau and Co. (or their own legal counsel) regarding any specific legal issues. Bernard Lau and Co. does not warrant or guarantee the quality, accuracy or completeness of any information on this website and should not be relied upon as being proper, accurate, timely or fit for any particular individual’s own circumstances other than for educational purposes.
Accessing or using this website does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Although your use of the website may facilitate access to or communications with members of Bernard Lau and Co. via e-mail transmissions or otherwise via the website, receipt of any such communications or transmissions by any member of Bernard Lau and Co. does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Bernard Lau and Co. does not guarantee the security or confidentiality of any communications made by e-mail or otherwise through this website.
Did you know that the name of an owner of a property you see on a title search may not actually be the true owner? This can be accomplished by a legal mechanism called a ‘bare trust’ and reflected in a legal document known as a ‘bare trust agreement’.
A bare trust is a legal arrangement in which a trustee, an agent or nominee of the true owner, holds property or assets on a beneficiary’s behalf. The trustee usually has limited control over the property and must follow the beneficiary’s instructions regarding its management, typically acting only as a custodian with no ownership rights or major decision-making authority. The beneficiary is the true owner who owns the property or asset and any income generated from it. Bare trust agreements are used for various purposes, such as holding assets for minors or individuals unable to manage their affairs, or even for privacy reasons although nowadays there are more disclosure requirements as a result of the Land Owner Transparency Act and its various filing requirements.
When to Use a Bare Trust Agreement
Bare trust agreements have been commonly used for:
- Real estate transactions where the buyer wants to remain anonymous on title. The buyer can create a bare trust and appoint a trustee to hold the property in their name. The buyer remains the trust’s beneficiary, and the trustee holds the legal title to the property but has no beneficial interest in it. However, with the introduction of the Land Owner Transparency Registry, all trusts nowadays must disclose the true beneficial owners and whether an owner is holding property in trust, so it is becoming more difficult to hide true ownership with a bare trust but a standard title search will often not disclose the trust relationship.
- Saving on probate fees for estate planning to transfer a property to beneficiaries under a Will without going through probate. The trustee holds a property in trust with a right of survivorship to avoid probate fees by way of transmission of survivorship, and then distributes the property to the beneficiaries named in the Will. The bare trust agreement can help determine the Willmaker’s intentions and make it clear that the joint tenant trustee holds title in name only.
Real Estate Lawyers in Vancouver
Are you looking to prepare a bare trust agreement for your situation? There are significant legal, tax and filing implications for bare trust agreements so get legal and accounting/tax advice before you decide to enter into a bare trust agreement. The knowledgeable real estate lawyers at Bernard Lau and Co. have extensive experience in real estate law. We can provide guidance on the legal implications and benefits of setting up a bare trust agreement, ensuring that it is properly drafted and executed to meet your situation.
Buying a home can be an exciting yet daunting process. As a home buyer, you want to make the best decision while understanding your rights under the law. The real estate market in British Columbia is dynamic, and it’s important to have the support of an experienced real estate lawyer. They will keep you updated on amendments that govern the buying process. One recent amendment of note was made to the Home Buyer Rescission/Protection Period.
Starting in 2023, home buyers have the right to cancel a contract within 3 business days after an offer is accepted, even if no subject-clauses are in the contract. If they choose to do so, they will need to pay a 0.25% charge to the seller, which can be deducted from the deposit.
Home Buyer Rescission/Protection Period
On January 3rd, 2023, the BC Provincial Government put in effect amendments to the Home Buyer Protection Period that allows persons purchasing residential properties a mandatory three business days to withdraw from a contract regarding most real estate purchasing contracts, including detached houses, town houses, and condo apartments. It gives home buyers a “cooling off” period for whatever reason they need before they are bound to the contract. These reasons may include an opportunity to conduct their due diligence, such as consulting with their real estate lawyer, or just simply to ‘sleep on it’ and to evaluate if the purchase is ideal for them after the initial rush of excitement. It also allows you, the buyer, to make arrangements to have the property inspected and source financing although traditional subject-to clauses can also be used to achieve this.
If, after three business days, you decide to rescind the contract of purchase and sale, you will have to pay the seller a recession fee of 0.25% of the purchase price of the property. If you already paid the deposit, the 0.25% recession fee would be paid to the seller from the deposit, and the remainder of the deposit must be paid back to you in a timely manner. The new amendment was designed to offer some protection to home buyers from being coerced into making a decision too quickly especially in hot market, while the rescission fee also mitigates against frivolous offers for home sellers.
The home buyer protection period supplements but does not replace traditional protections such as subject-clauses. While the 3-day cooling period can grant some peace of mind when making one of the biggest financial decisions of your life, it is not the only legal tool available for home buyers to consider in purchasing a home. In some cases, other legal options are available which may protect your legal rights just as well without the costly rescission fee that accompanies this cooling clause. We recommend that you consult with your real estate lawyer or legal professional to ensure you clearly understand your rights under the revised home buyer protection period.
Your Real Estate Lawyer in British Columbia
Real estate transactions are complex and involve a significant amount of paperwork and legalities. The experienced real estate lawyers at Bernard Lau & Co. can help you navigate the process of buying a home while protecting your interests and ensuring you understand your legal rights.
Complete our client contact form or call 604.285.5240 to schedule a consultation.
What Is Conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring the title to a property from the seller to the purchaser in a real estate transaction. It is a crucial aspect in the buying, selling or transferring of real estate and typically occurs after you’ve already signed a contract to purchase or sell a property. While it may not be as exciting as finding and viewing your dream home, conveyancing is just as important because the title to a property needs to change ownership to make the transfer official. That’s why it’s also important to have an experienced real estate legal professional handle the conveyancing process on your behalf. A lawyer’s legal experience and training in real estate law can help protect your interests and to ensure that the transfer of ownership is completed legally and properly.
The Process of Conveyancing
When selling real estate, conveyancing typically involves the following steps:
- Finding and retaining a property lawyer to handle the legal process on your behalf.
- Reviewing the terms of the contract of sale between the buyer and yourself (the seller) including price, the completion date and other material terms that may affect your closing.
- Review the title search to see what liens, mortgages or charges need to be removed or dealt with.
- Reviewing the documents prepared by the purchaser’s legal representative and witnessing your signature on these conveyancing documents including the Form A transfer, explaining the vendor statement of adjustments and the final sale proceeds that you as the seller will be receiving.
- Tending to the transferring of ownership of the property to the buyer and receiving the sale proceeds in trust, and releasing the net sale proceeds to you.
When buying real estate, the conveyancing process is slightly more complicated and involves the following:
- Instruct your property lawyer to handle the legal process on your behalf.
- Reviewing the contract of sale and conducting the necessary title searches to ensure the property is free from liens or making necessary arrangements to remove these liens.
- Preparing the transfer documents, which will be signed by the seller and transferred to you (the buyer).
- Receiving your purchase funds by bank draft and arranging the mortgage funding with your bank if you have a mortgage.
- Registering the Form A transfer at the land title office to officially transfer the ownership of the property to you (the buyer), and sending the sale proceeds to the seller’s lawyer.
The lawyer’s role in due diligence
Your real estate lawyer must perform due diligence to protect you in the transaction. Just as you would not want to purchase a car with a lien attached, a real estate lawyer will carry out searches such as title searches, property tax searches and even strata-related searches if applicable. As a purchaser, once you purchase a property, you are then responsible for all liens, strata arrears or property tax arrears that may attach to the property, so it is your lawyer’s job to conduct his due diligence to ensure that any such liabilities are handled properly, in most cases by the seller, so that you get a clean and clear title subject to your own mortgage if any. Other examples may include ensuring sufficient holdbacks so that is protected from strata liens or even from the CRA if the seller is a non-resident.
The objective of due diligence in conveyancing is to ensure that you get what you bargained for and that your interests as a bona fide purchaser for value are protected throughout.
Your Real Estate and Property Law Lawyer
The experienced team of real estate lawyers at Bernard Lau & Co. has over a decade of experience to guide you through your conveyancing process. We aim to assist clients to undergo the conveyancing process as smoothly, and efficiently as possible and to provide support through all the stages of your transaction while protecting your interests and minimizing legal risks and disputes. While some transactions may be contentious, we have the experience to provide legal support and advice to protect your interests throughout the process.