Preparation of a civil case

In the preparation of the case, the person in charge of the dossier peruses the application for a summons and, if necessary, requests additional information.

After having perused the application for a summons, he or she issues a summons, where the defendant is exhorted to respond to the demands in writing before a deadline. The summons contains information on the matters that are to be included in a written response. The district court serves the summons on the defendant by post or by a process server.

If the defendant opposes the action, the proceedings continue in oral preparation in a preparatory hearing to which the parties are summoned. In this hearing, the issues that are in dispute between the parties are established. Any possibilities of settlement are also explored. If a settlement is reached in the hearing, the district court will certify the settlement and the case is closed. If there is no settlement, the oral preparation is concluded and the matter referred to a main hearing.

The parties should prepare carefully for the preparatory hearing. The parties should bring along all written evidence they intend to invoke. They should also know who they want to be heard as witnesses. The questions asked at the hearing are often very detailed and the parties need to be prepared to be able to answer them. If the hearing has to be adjourned attributable to neglect on the part of a party, he or she may be obliged to pay the costs incurred.

In some situations, even a disputed case can be decided immediately after the written preparation. This is contingent on the consent of the parties and on the arrangement of a main hearing being obviously needless, for example, when no testimony is to be heard in the case.

In some situations, even the oral preparation may be dispensed with, so that the written preparation is immediately followed by a main hearing. An oral preparation can also be arranged by way of a conference call, e.g. if the parties reside at a distance from the court locality.

If there is no response, the district court will decide the case without continuing the preparation. In this event, the decision is called a judgment by default; it is issued in chambers without the need for the plaintiff or the defendant being summoned to a hearing. A biased judgement is immediately enforceable and may be submitted to the bailiff by the creditor. The district court is not responsible for the execution of the judgment, but the creditor himself must contact the defendant and the enforce-ment authorities.

A defendant against whom a judgment by default has been issued has the right to appeal against the decision within 30 days of being served with it. The relevant procedure is called application for re-trial. In this event, the matter is taken up for a hearing, so that it can be dealt with in detail and all evidence can be admitted.

Published 15.3.2016