One of the more common questions from clients is the length of their case. For example, in a simple breach of contract case, where a client is the plaintiff it may take over two years for the plaintiff to obtain a courtroom and proceed to trial. Although a majority of civil cases settle, any plaintiff or defendant should have an expectation that it could take at least two years for the matter to be resolved, if not more.
To originally address this problem, the legislature adopted the Trial Court Delay Reduction Act in an effort to manage the pace of litigation. Normally most cases fall within these standards, absent class action, complex litigation or other cases exempt from time standards. The goal is to have 75% of cases resolved within twelve months, 85% of cases resolved in eighteen months, and 100% of cases resolved after two years of filing. Although the courts, lawyers and clients try their best to keep cases moving along, in reality ordinary cases may take much longer. Further, with less funding for the court system and criminal case priority, civil litigants often find themselves preparing for trial in two or three occasions waiting for a courtroom. This is quite frustrating for clients because there is substantial time, money and emotions involved in any litigation. Nevertheless, until there is additional funding for the court system these timelines will remain in place for awhile.
We advise our clients of these time expectations upfront to prepare them for the next two to three years of their lives and find this provides guidance and manages client expectations.