Lesson 4 – Civil Procedure
Introduction and Objectives of the Lesson
This lesson introduces to you the world of courts, court procedure and available remedies. Civil procedure is complex, and the terminology is just like that. That is why we will go step by step and the first part deals with the types of courts in the Czech Republic and their jurisdiction. Afterwards, we will define participants and go through some key terminology related to a typical civil case.
Court decisions and remedies deserve special attention, as the terminology may be a bit tricky. It is also because Czech legal system provides different remedies from common law, but once you pick the essential words, you will be able to explain them to a foreigner too. The theory is concluded by a useful preview of phrases that can be found in a judgement.
At the end, we will study markers of contrast such as although or despite. We consider them to be an essential part of language of legal professionals. To show you an example: Although this lesson may seem to be difficult, we hope you will enjoy it (as much as we did making it for you).
Courts in the Czech Republic
A. The Role of Courts
Civil procedure (also referred to as civil proceedings) guarantees fair and just protection of the rights and legitimate interests of citizens. The law provides for the statutory frame and rules that are binding on the citizens and the role of courts and civil procedure is to enforce those rules and put them in practice. Civil courts try and decide disputes, enforce decisions and protect rights and interests of natural and legal persons. The Civil Procedure Code, the main source of law with respect to civil procedure in the Czech Republic, stipulates that civil courts deal primarily with matters arising from private law, i. e. relationships between individuals such as labour, family, business, and other contractual or extra-contractual relations.
B. Civil Courts in the Czech Republic
Civil cases may be tried by:
District courts are the first instance civil courts. Regional courts may decide as courts of first instance under certain circumstances too. In general, though, regional courts decide on appeals against decisions of district courts, i.e. they are the second instance courts or appellate courts. The first instance cases are usually tried by a sole judge (also called a single judge) and the second instance cases are reviewed by a panel of judges. The high courts review decisions of regional courts as courts of the first instance and the Supreme Court decides on appellate reviews. The Constitutional Court has a special position within the system of courts; it protects constitutionality, human rights, resolves competence conflicts and acts upon petitions which are called constitutional complaints.
We distinguish a subject matter jurisdiction and a territorial jurisdiction (also called a venue). The former defines which type of court is competent to try a particular case. The latter investigates the location of a particular competent court. As a general rule, the court of a territorial jurisdiction in a lawsuit is a general court of the defendant. The general court of a natural person is the court in the district of which the person resides. The general court of a legal person is the court in the district of which the legal person has its registered office.
The participants in contentious (also called litigious) procedure are called a claimant (also known as a plaintiff) and a defendant. Furthermore, the participants may be those who are presumed to be participants by law and, in procedure that may be initiated without a petition (non-contentious or non-litigious procedure) also the parties whose rights or obligations shall be tried by the procedure. An enjoined participant is anybody with a legal interest in…