A majority of changes are of formal nature and will primarily affect attorneys, who will
in turn need to inform their clients. For example, the act provides for additional rules on
court jurisdiction favouring weaker parties. Objections on the grounds of set-off or timebarring
must be made by all parties by the first hearing at latest.
The revised act will require parties to be much more involved in evidence collection
prior to the first hearing.
Some good practices established in arbitration proceedings also found their way into
court proceedings, which will hopefully enable the judges to conduct the proceedings in
a more transparent and efficient manner. The judges are now expected to prepare a
kind of "terms of reference" outlining some basic aspects of proceedings already at the
preliminary hearing. The revision limits the number of preparatory filings submitted by
parties, while it tries at the same time to ensure that all evidence is presented in time for
the first hearing. The number of preparatory filings prior to the preliminary hearing will
be limited to two per each party; these should be presented to the court within 15 days
prior to the hearing at latest. A party failing to attend the preparatory hearing will, even
in case of success, have to bear its costs of (the entire) proceedings in full. As regards the
taking of evidence, the obligation to produce documents upon the request of the
opponent has been expanded. The revision also introduces "pre-trial experts", enabling
the interested party to obtain an expert opinion, enabling it to fully specify its claim (e.g.
in respect of the quantum of damages) before the lawsuit is filed. The opinion will have
the same quality as if the court expert was appointed during the trial. It remains unclear,
though, how the courts will guarantee the counterparties' right to be heard (e.g. by
submitting comments to the expert opinion) in this pre-trial phase.
From now on, the courts will be able to issue a judgment with a summary of main
reasons within 8 days following the last hearing - a feature that was until now reserved
to certain commercial disputes. Full reasons will be prepared only if the party declares
its intent to appeal and pay a court fee. In appellate proceedings, the lawmaker sought
to limit the practice of appellate courts which favour reversing the judgments and
retrying the case. The appellate courts will now be encouraged to consider adjudicating
the matter by themselves in the course of an appeal trial, considering the parties' right to
trial without undue delay.
In our view, the revision seeks to introduce positive changes aimed at expediting trial proceedings. It remains a responsibility of the judges, though, to implement these shiny new tools in their case management.
We will be glad to address any further inquiries you might have.