Frivolous litigations come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing is for sure: they are a complete waste of time on the court and other parties related to them. Unfortunately, they are inevitable, especially because many of these frivolous lawsuits are either filed in ignorance or due to malice. Courts can’t prevent them from being filed; they have to start proceedings first before the case can be thrown out, wasting precious time and resources.
Nonetheless, the justice system has its own methods of discouraging and dealing with people who continue to file these kinds of lawsuits. Listed below are some methods used for dealing with frivolous litigations in court.
Time in the court room isn’t free. A lot of money needs to be spent for every hearing, from courtroom maintenance costs to staff wages. As such, you can’t expect the court to let a facetious suit waste time and resources without any consequences.
One of the common steps taken after dismissing a frivolous case is to require the offending party to pay for the court and lawyer fees of all parties involved. In the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals, they even require the litigant to pay damages incurred by the other party caused by the lawsuit. Note however that the amount payable is reliant on what the court mandates the litigant to pay, proportional to the amount of damage the court believes was inflicted on the other party.
Dealing with the Counsel
Lawyers who represent litigants who file absurd claims in court are not exempt from any repercussions brought about by their case. Individual attorneys may be required to pay a part or entirety of the legal fees incurred during the duration of the hearing. They may even be sanctioned with fines in some instances.
Often, but not always, the lawyer’s law firm (if he is part of one) can also be slapped with a penalty for being a party to the frivolous lawsuit. Often this includes the firm paying all damages and fees. In other jurisdictions, they may face additional penalties as the court sees fit.
Holding in Contempt
Sometimes the litigant and/or their counsel go above and beyond with their facetious legal claims. They’re not only pursuing their current course of action out of ignorance or good faith, but out of a genuine aim to ruin another, or the court system itself. In other cases, the litigant just cannot be swayed away from their false or misinformed legal beliefs.
In such cases, the court has the authority to hold the litigant, their legal representative, or both, in contempt of court. Penalties often include the outright ban on filing lawsuits for the foreseeable future (even if said future lawsuit has strong legal merit) and a hefty fine. In extreme cases (mostly criminal ones and not civil ones), the litigant can face jail time if they are found to be in contempt of court.
Frivolous charges equate to severe penalties for the litigant with far-reaching consequences in the future. If you end up being on the receiving end of one such charge in the future, always have a competent criminal defense lawyer to have your back.