Building Your Case

Last Reviewed: June, 2021 Reviewed by: JES Contributors

It is important to have a clear understanding of your case. The claim describes what happened and the amount that is owed. Your case includes all the information related to how you will persuade the judge that your claim is valid and that you should be awarded the amount claimed. Or, if you are the defendant, why the claim is invalid and why you should not have to pay the amount claimed.

Four Requirements to Build a Legal Case:

  1. What do you want? 
  2. What are your legal reasons?
  3. What do you need to prove?
  4. How are you going to prove it? 

For example, you loaned your friend $10,000 and he was supposed to pay it back a few months ago, but he has only paid you $2,000 so far. 

What do you want? What are your legal reasons? What do you need to prove? How will you prove it? (Evidence)

$8,000 plus interest

Contract 

  • You had an agreement
  • You loaned $10,000
  • Friend was to repay the loan by a certain date 
  • Friend only paid $2,000, so $8,000 plus interest is still owing
  • The written agreement and other documented support (i.e. - texts or emails confirming agreement) 
  • Documentation of loan given, payment received and attempts to be repaid, with dates.
  • Personal testimony - confirmation of events with dates: agreement made, money loaned, payments made and attempts to receive repayment. 

 

What You Want

What do you want the court to decide? You will need to be able to describe to the other party as well as the judge what result you are seeking or why the other party should not get what they are seeking. The order you are asking the judge will depend on what the law says and what you are able to prove. When you are presenting in court it will be important to be able to describe what order you would like the judge to make. Carefully consider the steps below before deciding. 

Legal Reasons (the law)

Legal Research about the laws and your legal rights and responsibilities will help you understand the strength of your case and what you are legally entitled to. It’s good to know the law that supports your claim. It is helpful to speak to a lawyer and get legal advice.

For example, if you are arguing you were fired without proper notice i.e. wrongfully dismissed, you will want to know what the courts have said about what constitutes proper notice and what other people in similar circumstances received as compensation. If you look at enough cases you will be able to see how the court decides cases like yours.

Get Help

If you want to find a lawyer try the Lawyer Referral Service or Access Pro Bono

What You Need To Prove

The types of things you’ll need to prove will depend on the type of case you bring. In our debt example, you may want to prove: a loan agreement was made, partial payment was received, attempts were made to receive more payment, the agreed time period has ended, debt is still owing. In this case, the claimant would need to prove each of these elements. 

This is an area that you should do some legal research on but generally you’ll want to prove:

  1. An agreement and terms of the agreement, or circumstances of an event that occured
  2. Damage occurred, money is owed, property taken, etc...
  3. The other party is responsible
  4. The amount of money you are asking for, or other remedy, is justified

For example: If you are saying the defendant damaged your property, you will need to show:

  1. Damage was done to your property
  2. The defendant caused the damage
  3. How much it will cost to repair or replace the item

How to Prove It

Once you’ve figured out what you need to prove, you can think about how best to do this. You will need to bring in evidence to prove your position. Think about what testimony or documents that will help show these things.

Key Term

Evidence the available body of facts or information that indicates whether a proposition is true or not

For example: 

Need to prove Examples of Evidence

Damage was done to your property

Photos of property before and after damage

Defendant caused damage

Someone who saw the damage occur describes the events and what they saw

How much it will cost to repair

Present 3 quotes for the repair of damaged property 

See Evidence to learn more about how to assess and prepare your evidence. 

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