Schedule a Consultation

The Illinois Commercial Litigation Process Explained

Updated on
November 26, 2019
Article written by
Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we explain the Illinois commercial litigation process. Our Illinois commercial litigation lawyers address the following:

  • What is commercial litigation in Illinois?
  • What are some examples of Illinois commercial litigation?
  • What are the steps in the commercial litigation process?
  • How long can a commercial lawsuit last in Illinois?
  • Can a business represent themselves in an Illinois commercial lawsuit?

What is commercial litigation in Illinois?

Commercial litigation refers to any type of dispute that comes about in a business context. This could include lawsuits against companies, partnerships, or individuals, or brought by companies, partnerships, or individuals. If any type of business entity is involved on either side of a lawsuit, it’s considered a commercial litigation.

What are some examples of Illinois commercial litigation?

With over 1.2 million small businesses, Illinois courts see a wide variety of commercial litigation cases. The most common cases involve breaches of contract, partnership disputes, copyright and licensing infringement, shareholder issues, fraud and misrepresentation, and class actions. 

What are the steps in the commercial litigation process?

Every instance of commercial litigation is unique and it’s impossible to say exactly what your process will look like. But the following steps should provide a comprehensive outline of a typical commercial litigation process in Illinois.


  • Complaint is filed — The petitioner, or plaintiff, files a complaint against the respondent, or defendant. The plaintiff must give notice of the suit to the defendant in the form of a summons.
  • Defendant answers — The defendant answers the complaint, either admitting or denying any factual allegations brought forth. If a complaint is not proper for any reason, an attorney can file a motion to dismiss. A defendant may also counterclaim at this time.
  • Discovery phase begins — The discovery phase of litigation refers to the time both parties spend before trial becoming familiar and educated about the case. This could include document requests and subpoenas, interrogatories, depositions, and requests to admit.
  • Settlement is attempted — After the discovery phase, both parties may try to resolve disputed questions of fact before going to trial. Most commercial litigation cases are settled before trial. In commercial litigation, settling is often more affordable, for both bank accounts and brand reputations, than a lengthy and public trial.
  • Trial begins — If parties are unable or unwilling to settle, the trial procedure will begin. This includes jury selection, opening statements, admission of evidence, presentation of plaintiff and defendant cases, closing arguments, and verdict and judgement.

How long can a commercial lawsuit last in Illinois?

Concluding a commercial lawsuit is typically a slow process. It’s not uncommon for a year or longer to go by between the filing of a complaint and the first day of trial. Depending on the depth and severity of the initial complaint, a trial can last anywhere between several days and several months. A verdict can also be appealed and lengthen the litigation process even more. The best way to speed up a commercial lawsuit is to settle before going to trial.

Can a corporation represent itself in an Illinois commercial lawsuit?

Illinois law prohibits a corporation from representing itself without an attorney in a commercial litigation trial. It’s advisable that businesses, no matter the size or nature of their case, work with an experienced Illinois commercial litigation attorney.


The Illinois Commercial Litigation Process Explained
Author

Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty

Kevin O’Flaherty is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Chicago-Kent College of Law. He has experience in litigation, estate planning, bankruptcy, real estate, and comprehensive business representation.

What to Expect From a Consultation

The purpose of a free consultation is to determine whether our firm is a good fit for your legal needs. Although we often discuss expected results and costs, our attorneys do not give legal advice unless and until you choose to retain us. Although most consultations are complimentary, some may carry a charge depending on the type of matter and meeting location.


9 am - 5 pm M - F
After 5 pm by Appt
11 am - 3pm Sat by Appt
11 am - 2 pm Sun by Appt

Open Hours

Mon - Fri

9am - 5pm

By Appointment

Mon - Fri

after 5pm

Saturday

11 am - 3pm

Sunday

11 am - 2 pm


9 am - 5 pm M - F
After 5 pm by Appt
11 am - 3pm Sat by Appt
11 am - 2 pm Sun by Appt

Open Hours

Mon - Fri

9am - 5pm

By Appointment

Mon - Fri

after 5pm

Saturday

11 am - 3pm

Sunday

11 am - 2 pm


9 am - 5 pm M - F
After 5 pm by Appt
11 am - 3pm Sat by Appt
11 am - 2 pm Sun by Appt

Contact us for a Free Consultation

Who We are

We are your community law firm. Our Iowa & Illinois Attorneys are committed to providing exceptional client service in a cost-effective manner in the areas of Family Law, Probate, Estate Planning, Civil Litigation, Guardianship, Criminal Defense, Corporate & Contract Law, Bankruptcy and Real Estate.
Disclaimer: Our articles and comment responses do not constitute legal advice and are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship.

Please contact us to schedule a consultation specific to your legal situation.