How to win a case in court? – A guide for non-lawyers

How to win a case in court
Piotr Kłodziński|
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First of all, remember that success, i.e. winning a court case, means obtaining the most favorable result possible. The assessment of what the most favorable result is in a given case depends on what evidence each party has collected, how it managed to present it and what the analysis of the facts looks like in terms of applicable law. I assure you here that the author of this article - as a practitioner - has seen lost cases that turned out to be won, and quite a few cases that looked seemingly good, but during their duration the prospects for winning them drastically decreased.

In the article, we start with an introduction - that is, we explain why it is best to entrust the case to a professional, and then - we suggest several important issues that may contribute to winning the court case.

Regardless of whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant, you will want to deal the cards as best as possible, see as many of your opponent's cards as possible, and ultimately make the most of the cards you are dealt. That is why it is so crucial to keep emotions in check at all costs and approach procedural decisions objectively. It's best to make decisions like a smart, highly experienced poker player. That is, one who knows when to leave the table, when to stay at it, and when to raise the stakes.

 

Of course, if you are a less experienced player, it is worth listening to your lawyer. That is legal advisor or a lawyer - they can represent and advise in court disputes. Why would you listen to someone else on your case? 

While you are a foreigner in the legal world, your lawyer is not afraid of the court, it is simply his place of work. Therefore, it is worth listening carefully to the lawyer's advice and, preferably, writing it down. However, you should always remember that a good lawyer has extensive experience in making procedural decisions, and most often he started doing his job because he had the appropriate predispositions to do so. You can control him, you can give him suggestions - but ultimately trust his experience. In 14 years of working in this profession, I have never seen a lawyer who would want his client badly.

What if you don't trust your lawyer? 
So just replace him with another one, none of them will be offended in the end. It is quite common for clients to change lawyers, just as patients change doctors. Everyone suits a slightly different person. It is important that there is a thread of understanding between the client and the lawyer. If there is none, most often after such a change, both parties will feel relief.

Can a lawyer guarantee that you will win the case? 

A small digression: As a practitioner who encounters clients' questions every day about the guarantee of winning the case, I have the impression that this question is a bit like asking about the guarantee of recovery from, for example, a serious cancer disease. The examination of the tumor and its size usually allows us to predict a lot, but many surprises may occur during treatment. Therefore, every doctor will confirm that there are quite a lot of patients in the world who had almost no chance of surviving their disease. Of course, it must also be said that some people have passed away from this world whose disease seemed very easy to cure. It's exactly the same with court cases. Losing is not always the doctor's or lawyer's fault.

With the above in mind, here are some good tips on how to win a court case:

1. Instead of litigation, it is better to choose negotiations and mediation
The court will encourage you to reach an agreement. And he will be right. In almost all situations, a negotiated resolution of the dispute is much faster, cheaper and more reliable than court proceedings. Often, judges will all but require that disputing parties try to reach an agreement with the help of a qualified mediator before proceeding to trial. You should make full use of the available mediation possibilities, because no case is hopeless. I guarantee it. When the parties cooperate with the lawyers handling the case and the mediator, it will often turn out that it is possible to negotiate an agreement that both you and the other party can live with.

2. Never litigate out of pure malice or pure revenge
As an old proverb attributed to Confucius says: Before you set out for revenge, dig two graves. Definitely don't make trial decisions out of anger and vindictiveness. This way you will always, always hurt yourself. In addition to generating excessive legal costs, your health, everyday peace and, ultimately, happiness will suffer. If you honestly look in the mirror and realize that your motivation is malice or revenge, it is in your best interest to find a way to settle or otherwise end the matter. Even by withdrawing the lawsuit.

3. Be flexible, seek an agreement and complete negotiations as quickly as possible 
In our law firm's practice, the vast majority of cases end with a settlement reached before the verdict; success often means obtaining an acceptable outcome of the case. When negotiations with the opposing party are ongoing, try to be flexible in making decisions. Very often, there are many aspects of the settlement that the other party cares about very much, and which you can come to terms with. Typically, your belief as to the value that should be included in the settlement document will differ significantly from the numerical value provided by the opposing party. Of course, you have to negotiate hard, but in the end it will be best if both parties finally compromise. Usually, the sooner this happens, the better - you will save not only your life, but also stress and the costs of handling the case. Typically, when really important matters are pending, clients complain that they cannot devote their full attention to their work and career. Therefore, paradoxically, if you want to win the case, it is best to give in a little.

When I want to convince clients or their opponents to end the case, I usually explain to them quite honestly that, despite their hopes, they will most often do nothing about the verdict. Exhausted by the trial, they will hang it up as a moral satisfaction and tell about it to a few uninterested friends and equally uninterested extended family. However, if they reach an agreement, maybe they will mention it during the next Christmas, but on the following holidays they will talk about their travels, children or successes at work. However, if they fail to reach an agreement, they will have something to think about when they fall asleep almost every day, and something to talk about during the holidays. And the family will only see a man consumed by stress and struggling. Most often without any materially significant winnings. To sum up - only the one who finishes the game quickly wins.

4. Look for win-win solutions

Referring to the previous point - in negotiations and during court cases, it is good to look for solutions in which each party can win.

Drawing examples from a lawyer's life - once quite a large company from Krakow that we represented paid a huge deposit for a large, annual corporate event in Masuria. Unfortunately, just before the event, the shareholders decided to dismiss the company's management board, and the event was canceled along with it. 

The contract was very imprecise. The lawyer of the hotel complex, which demanded payment of several hundred thousand zlotys from the large company, was very dissatisfied with the idea of conducting settlement talks. After all, she planned to make money from the lawsuit. Just like the hotel's proxy who behaved aggressively, shouting "this plane has already left." And yet, efficient and experienced negotiators asked - how far in advance and at the latest can such events be booked at the hotel? It turned out that the minimum was two months. Therefore, they suggested "let us fly this plane when it's empty," i.e. when you don't have a reservation. We will organize this event in three weeks. Instead of conducting a court dispute for 8 years, you will still earn a lot this year. And we will rebuild morale in the company. 
What about the lawyer who planned to collect a large amount of money for preparing a lawsuit? The parties shared the costs of preparing a very detailed settlement agreement.  

In almost every case it is possible to find a win-win solution. You just have to look at the matter carefully and search carefully. Unfortunately, emotions often cloud the view.

5. Keep an eye on deadlines and formal requirements

Unfortunately, the court process currently resembles a formula trial. The legislator has prepared many requirements and formal traps, the failure to meet which leads to the termination of the case for purely formal reasons. Why? Such changes - contrary to the interests of citizens and increasing dissatisfaction with the courts - resulted from the method adopted by the Ministry of Justice in recent years. Its officials and those in charge of politics were unable to improve the statistics, and they did not want to listen too much to the judges with whom they were at war, so they increased formal rigors. After all, if the court rejects the lawsuit after a month or two, then... the case is closed in two months and the statistics "brilliantly" improve. Which statistics have deteriorated significantly in recent years anyway. Can't you fix the judiciary? The simplest solution is to increase formal rigors, i.e. break the thermometer - as a result of such action, the fever will drop, as a result of completely formalizing the process down to the smallest details - the time for considering cases will also supposedly decrease... Just like society's trust in the courts. Maybe we will be able to win the next elections on this wave again? Okay, enough irony.
The rigors, deadlines and obligations of the court must be observed if you want to win your case in court, this is no joke. It is these kinds of mistakes that are the easiest way to lose a case.

How to win a court case? In fact, you will need it good lawyer
Although it is almost obvious, the most important ingredient of success (apart from the client's contribution to collecting evidence for the lawyer) is the selection of a qualified lawyer, i.e. a lawyer or legal advisor who will argue well in your case. Choose someone who has experience in a given field of law and with whom you can establish a relationship.

Also remember that he does something that seems unnecessary to you - it is often because a good lawyer knows how to present the fact that the hypothesis of a legal norm has been fulfilled in order to almost force the court to apply this norm of disposition. A good poker player is, above all, one who knows the rules and is able to apply them - that is, he knows which hand of cards is the most advantageous.

I cordially invite you to contact with our Office.
Author: r.pr. Piotr Kłodziński

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