– By Ira Tee, Associate Lawyer
Clients often wonder why lawyers are still working on a file even after judgment has been pronounced. It’s case over, isn’t it? The truth is that while obtaining a judgment from the court may seem like the end of a case and no further legal work needs to be done it isn’t. Further steps need to be taken to finalize and enforce a judgment.
Drafting the Order
When a court provides their reasons for judgment, this often contains a review of the evidence and the parties’ positions and the court’s judgment on the issues. This is not the same document that is filed or which the parties can use to enforce a term. After receiving the reasons for judgment, counsel for the parties will need to prepare the order that will be filed in the court. Sometimes counsel can’t agree on the wording of the order and will need to go before the judge for clarification or before a registrar to settle the terms. However, it is more often the case that a draft order is sent between counsel to edit and sign.
Even after judgment has been pronounced and the order is entered, either party may file an appeal of the order within the timelines set out for the specific type of matter. Counsel then need to get instructions about proceeding to filing or defending an appeal. Sometimes, this will lead to negotiations to avoid the expense of an appeal, but often it will lead to appeal proceedings and further legal work does need to be done.
Enforcing An Order
If no appeal is filed and the timelines for filing an appeal have passed, then a party will seek to collect on the fruits of their judgment. Sometimes, the other party will refuse to pay the judgment against them or comply with the terms of the order. If this happens, then counsel may need to make further applications to ensure compliance.
Variations of an Order
In some types of matters, especially family matters, even a final order is not the end. Support orders may be varied year to year to reflect actual incomes and some issues can get reviewed if there has been a material change in circumstances.
While receiving a judgment helps parties know their obligations to each other, your lawyer’s job never just ends there. If you are successful in obtaining a judgment, enforcing it is the next step or you risk losing any benefit you obtained from obtaining the judgment in the first place.