Lawyers for the family of Joan Francisco hope that the claim, for the assault and battery that led to her death, will result in a finding by a civil court that Tony Diedrick, the suspect, committed the killing.
The action is being brought by Dr Francisco's sisters, Margaret and Celia, following a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service that there was insufficient evidence for a prosecution.
Dr Francisco, a 27-year-old gynaecologist and obstetrician, was found strangled in her flat in north London, on Boxing Day 1994.
A police inquiry revealed that she had been the victim of a stalker, but the inquiry was hampered by the lack of a witness and forensic evidence.
Karen Thatcher, the family's solicitor, said: "We hope that during the course of these proceedings more evidence may emerge which will result in the CPS reviewing the case."
In contrast to a criminal prosecution where an accused can remain silent, Mr Diedrick, 37, from Maida Vale, north-west London, has little option but to mount a defence and to give evidence. The damages claim could be worth up to pounds 50,000.