PROCEDURES FOR CIVIL LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT AT FIRST-INSTANCE STAGE IN COURTS
So far, dispute settlement at courts has been a traditional and popular method in Vietnam. In that, the disputing parties need to understand the steps in the litigation proceedings to protect their legitimate rights and interests when participating in dispute settlement at Courts. In this legal article, we hereby mention and analyze the procedures for civil lawsuit settlement at the first-instance stage and some points to note in these procedures.
1. Submitting a petition attached with relevant documents and evidence (“Petition dossier”)
Under the regulations of law, a petition shall be submitted directly, by post, or via the e-portal to the Court (if any).
Date of initiation of lawsuits is the day on which the Court receives the petition submitted by the petitioner or the date written on the seal of the post office where the petition is sent from or the date of initiation of the lawsuit shall be the day on which the petition is sent through e-portal. In cases where the date cannot be identified through the seal of the sending post office, the date of initiation of the lawsuit shall be the day on which the petition is sent from the post office.
For more details in this Step, please refer to our Article on Procedure of drafting and submitting a civil lawsuit petition to court at the following link:
2. Mediation in court
Within 02 working days after receiving a petition, if it does not fall into the cases of non-conduction of mediation, the Court shall notify in writing the petitioner of the right to choose mediation and to select mediators.
Within 3 working days after receiving the court’s notice, the petitioner must reply in writing or other forms to the court as to the court’s notice. Accordingly, if the petitioner agrees to participate in mediation, the Court will proceed with the mediation. If he/she refuses the mediation, the Court will transfer the petition for handling under the litigation proceedings. If he/she has not yet provided a reply, the Court will notify him/her for the second time about the mediation.
3. Accepting the case and pay the court fee advance
The Chief Justice will review the petition and make one of the following decisions: (i) To request for amendment and/or supplementation of lawsuit petition; (ii) To carry out the acceptance procedure of the case; (iii) To transfer the lawsuit petition to competent Court and notify the petitioner thereof if the cases fall under other courts’ jurisdiction; (iv) To return the lawsuit petition to the petition.
When considering that there is sufficient basis to file the lawsuit under the jurisdiction of the Court which receives the lawsuit petition, the Court will notify the petitioner to pay a court fee advance.
Within 07 days from the day on which the courts’ notice on payment of Court fee advances is received, the petitioner must pay such advance and submit the receipt for payment of Court fee advance to the Court, in that time, Judges shall accept the lawsuit petition. In cases where the petitioner is exempt from or not required to pay the Court fee advance, the Judge must accept the lawsuit petition upon receiving it and its attached documents and/or evidence.
Thus, the payment of the court fee advance is a condition precedent for the Court to accept the lawsuit. Accordingly, the petitioner needs to pay attention to the time of receiving the Court’s notice and promptly pay the court fee advance for the Court’s acceptance of the lawsuit and the first basis for dispute settlement.
Within 03 working days from the day on which the lawsuit is accepted, the Judge must send written notices to the plaintiff, the defendant, the person with relevant rights and duties, and the procuracy of the same level on the Courts’ acceptance of the lawsuit.
4. Counter-claims of the defendant and Independent-claims of the person with relevant interests and duties
Within 15 days from the day on which the notices are received, the defendant and/or person with relevant interests and duties must submit to the Court their opinions in writing towards the plaintiff’s claims and attached documents and evidence, their counter-claims and independent-claims (if any).
The determination of the defendant’s counter-claims and the independent claims of the person with related interests and obligations play an important role in protecting their legitimate rights and interests in the lawsuit. Also, the determination of counter-claims and independent claims is the basis for calculating court fee advances for the defendant and the person with relevant rights and duties.
In that, the parties should note that the counter-claims and the independent-claims are only accepted by the Court if these claims are submitted before opening a meeting for checking the handover of, access to and disclosure of evidence, and mediating.
5. Meetings for checking the handover of, access to, and disclosure of evidence and mediating
The handover of, access to, and disclosure of evidence is a mandatory procedure in the first-instance proceedings to ensure that all evidence is public and lawful; and the mediation meeting is held with the aim to the parties can negotiate and agree to settle the dispute, this helps to avoid putting pressure on the Court due to a large number of cases.
The Courts will carry out the meetings for checking the handover of, access to and disclosure of evidence and mediating between the involved parties in the period of first-instance trial preparation. If the lawsuit must not be mediated or the mediation cannot be conducted, the Judge shall hold the meetings for checking the handover of, access to, and disclosure of evidence without mediation.
After the meetings, the Judge determines and concludes on the agreed and disputed issues and determines whether the parties have successfully mediated. In case the parties mediate successfully, after 07 days from the date of issuing the minutes, if no involved parties change their opinions, the judge will issue a decision to recognize their agreement.
6. The decision to bring the lawsuit to trial
If the parties fail to mediate according to Step 6 and the lawsuit does not fall into the cases of suspension of settlement or termination of settlement under the law, the Judge must issue a Decision to bring the case to trial. Accordingly, this Decision specifies the participants in the trial and the time and place of the trial. Therefore, the parties should thoroughly read the Decision to participate in the first-instance court trial and protect their legitimate rights and interests.
7. The first-instance trial
The first-instance court trial must be held at the time and place stated in the decision to bring the lawsuit to trial or in the notice of reopening the court trial in some adjournment cases.
The first-instance trial takes place under the direction of the Chairman and consists of the following parts: (i) preparation for the opening of the trial; (ii) opening the trial; (iii) presentation; (iv) interrogation; (v) argument; (vi) deliberation; and (vii) pronouncement of judgments.
In which, the involved parties and their representatives present the case, raise questions surrounding the case and use evidence to answer and argue to clarify details and protect their legitimate rights and interests.
After the parties finish the argument part at the first-instance court trial, the Trial Panel will deliberate, issue the first-instance judgment and pronounce the judgment in the presence of the involved parties and their representatives.
The first-instance judgment will come into legal effect after 1 month from the date of judgment pronouncement without appeals, except for cases of overdue appeals under the law. Thus, the first-instance judgment is the basis for the involved parties to appeal or enforce in case the judgment comes into legal effect.
7. Supplying judgment extracts, handing over, and sending the judgments
The involved parties will be supplied with judgment extracts by the court within 03 working days after the end of the trial. Within 10 days from the date of judgment pronouncement, the Court will hand over or send the judgment to the involved parties.
Above is our legal share of the procedures for civil lawsuit settlement at the first-instance stage in the Court. Hope you can clearly understand and take notice of the steps in such procedures by this article to protect your legitimate rights and interests when participating in the lawsuit settlement at Court.
TNTP & Associates International Law Firm