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Last update: 15-01-2009
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Bringing a case to court - Czech Republic

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Do I have to go to court? 1.
2. Am I still in time to bring a court action? 2.
3. Am I sure that I should go to a court in the Czech Republic? 3.
4. If yes, which particular court should I go to in the Czech Republic, given where I live and where the other party lives, or other aspects of my case? 4.
5. Which particular court should I go to in this Member State, given the nature of my case and the amount at stake? 5.
6. Can I bring a court action by myself or do I have to ask an intermediary, such as to be represented by a solicitor? 6.
7. Who exactly do I apply to: to the reception office or the office of the clerk of the court or any other administration? 7.
8. In which language can I make my application? Can I do it orally or does it have to be in writing? Can I send my application by fax or by e-mail? 8.
9. Are there special forms for bringing actions, or, if not, how must I present my case? Are there elements that have to be included in the file? 9.
10. Will I have to pay court charges? 10.
11. Do I have to bear the costs of proceedings? If so, will I have to pay a lawyer right from the beginning? May I apply for a contribution towards the costs of proceedings? 11.
12. From which moment is my action officially considered to have been brought? Will the authorities give me some confirmation that my case has been properly presented? 12.
13. Will I have detailed information about the timing of subsequent events (such as the time allowed for me to enter an appearance)? 13.

 

OBSAH

1. Do I have to go to court?

Anyone is entitled to go to court to seek protection of a right that has been threatened or infringed. It is always a good idea to try and resolve a dispute amicably. Various alternative methods for resolving disputes can also be used. In some areas of private law the State makes it possible for the parties in a private law relationship to entrust a legal dispute to a private body. In the Czech Republic, Act No 216/1994 has laid down rules governing arbitration. An Act on mediation in non-criminal matters is currently being prepared. Arbitration results in an arbitration award, which is binding on both parties to the dispute and takes the form of an enforceable right. For further details see "Alternative dispute resolutions - Czech Republic".

Even after you have gone to court, it is still possible to ask the court to make an attempt at conciliation if the nature of the case allows (Sections 67-69 and Section 99 of the Code of Civil Procedure). Approved court conciliation has the same effects as a final judgment. At the same time, it confers a right that can be enforced by judicial means. The principle of ne bis in idem applies to approved court conciliation.

2. Am I still in time to bring a court action?

The limitation period differs in various cases and it is therefore better to consult a legal adviser in good time. A claim has to be lodged with the competent court before the limitation period runs out (an application must be lodged with the court within the stipulated period).

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If the limitation period stipulated by law has run out, the debtor's obligation is  not terminated but it is weakened. This means that it is not enforceable if the debtor argues that the limitation period has lapsed. The general provisions governing limitations are laid down in Sections 100-114 of Act No 40/1964 (the Civil Code). The limitation period for commercial obligations is governed by Sections 387-408 of Act No 513/1991 (the Commercial Code). The general limitation period is three years and starts to run on the day the right could have been enforced for the first time. In the case of commercial obligations the general limitation period is four years. The length of special limitation periods depends on the nature of the rights claimed.

See also "Procedural time limits - Czech Republic".

3. Am I sure that I should go to a court in the Czech Republic?

See "Jurisdiction of the courts".

4. If yes, which particular court should I go to in the Czech Republic, given where I live and where the other party lives, or other aspects of my case?

Court jurisdiction is determined by the rules of territorial, substantive and functional jurisdiction. Substantive jurisdiction defines the competence of the various types of courts in terms of which court decides on the matter at first instance. In civil proceedings, substantive jurisdiction means that district courts have jurisdiction over proceedings at first instance. Territorial jurisdiction defines the competence of courts of the same type, in other words which particular first instance court is to hear and decide a particular case. The court with territorial jurisdiction is the ordinary (home) court of the party against whom the action is being taken (the defendant), except where the law stipulates otherwise.

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The ordinary court of a party to proceedings is determined depending on whether the party is a natural person (or, to be more precise, a natural person engaged in business activity) or a legal entity (there are special provisions determining the ordinary court for the State, municipalities and local authorities). In general, the ordinary court of a natural person is the district court in whose district the natural person resides or, if the person has no fixed residence, the court in whose district that person is currently staying. If a natural person has several places of residence, the ordinary court includes all district courts in whose districts that person lives with the intention of residing there permanently. In the case of a legal entity, the ordinary court is the court in whose district the legal entity's registered office is located. If a regional court has substantive jurisdiction over the matter at first instance, the court with territorial jurisdiction is the court in whose district the ordinary court of the party is located. Functional jurisdiction defines the competence of the various types of court subsequently involved in hearing the same case where ordinary and extraordinary appeals have been lodged (in other words, it determines which court decides on ordinary and extraordinary appeals).

5. Which particular court should I go to in this Member State, given the nature of my case and the amount at stake?

As indicated above (see question 4), the substantive jurisdiction rules mean that in civil proceedings it is, in principle, the district courts that have jurisdiction at first instance. The sole departure from this rule is that regional courts hear and decide the cases specified in Section 9(2) and (3) of the Code of Civil Procedure. This includes, in particular, deciding cases whose nature requires certain expertise and cases which are more complex in terms of the facts and the law (such as the protection of an individual, disputes resulting under the Copyright Act and the legal provisions governing the protection of personal data in information systems). In addition, regional courts decide at first instance on the commercial cases specified in Section 9(3) of the Code of Civil Procedure; all other commercial cases not specified there are heard and decided by the district courts.

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6. Can I bring a court action by myself or do I have to ask an intermediary, such as to be represented by a solicitor?

In the Czech Republic, representation by a lawyer is not generally compulsory in civil proceedings.

Anyone  having the capacity to sue and be sued, i.e. anyone having legal capacity (Sections 8-10 of the Civil Code), may act vis-à-vis and before a court. A natural person attains full capacity to sue and be sued upon reaching the age of majority, which is eighteen years. Before that age, a person can attain majority only by marriage. A party to proceedings who does not have full capacity to sue and be sued must be represented in proceedings. A person may not have the capacity to sue and be sued if a court has limited their legal capacity or deprived them of it.

Where natural persons have no legal capacity, a representative acts on their behalf. A party to proceedings may be represented:

  1. by a legal representative (Section 22 of the Code of Civil Procedure);
  2. by a person whom the party appoints under a power of attorney (Sections 24-28a of the Code of Civil Procedure);
  3. by a representative chosen by a court decision (Sections 29-31 of the Code of Civil Procedure). The authority to act as a representative is granted either by law, or through a decision by a state body (legal representation) or under an agreement on power of attorney. Any person acting in proceedings as a representative of a party to the proceedings must prove his authority to act as a representative.

7. Who exactly do I apply to: to the reception office or the office of the clerk of the court or any other administration?

A claim (application to start proceedings) has to be lodged with the court having substantive, territorial and functional jurisdiction. The addresses of the Czech courts can be found on the following website of the Ministry of Justice of the Czech Republic: http://portal.justice.cz/uvod/JusticeEN.aspx?id=soud.

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8. In which language can I make my application? Can I do it orally or does it have to be in writing? Can I send my application by fax or by e-mail?

The parties to proceedings have equal status and are entitled to act before court in their mother tongue (Section 18 of the Code of Civil Procedure). A claim (application to start proceedings) may be lodged in the claimant's mother tongue. In order to speed up consideration of your claim it is, however, advisable to include a translation into Czech of any documents addressed to the court.

An application to start proceedings may be lodged in writing, orally (on the record) at the court's reception office, in electronic form, by telegram or by fax. An application may be made orally for proceedings concerning permission to enter into matrimony, proceedings to determine or deny paternity, proceedings to determine whether the consent of a child’s parents is required for its adoption, adoption proceedings, proceedings which may also be started without an application, and in the case of applications for enforcement of a decision issued in such proceedings. Any district court must draw up a record on any such application and refer it without delay to the competent court. An application of this kind has the same effects as if it had been made directly to the competent court. An application made in electronic form, by telegram or fax must be accompanied by the original or by an identical copy in writing within three days at the latest. This obligation does not apply to applications made in electronic form accompanied by an advanced electronic signature supported by a recognised qualified certificate (in accordance with Act No 227/2000.).

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9. Are there special forms for bringing actions, or, if not, how must I present my case? Are there elements that have to be included in the file?

There are no prescribed forms for lodging a claim (application to start proceedings). A claim must contain general and specific elements.

The general elements include the designation of the court to which the application is addressed and the name of the person submitting it. Moreover, it has to be clear from the application what redress is being sought (what it concerns) and it has to be signed and dated. The specific elements include the names, surnames and addresses of the parties to the proceedings (in the case of a legal entity also its business name and registered office); if parties are represented in the proceedings, the details of their representatives must also be included; a description of the key facts and presentation of evidence. A claim has to make it clear what the claimant is seeking. Where the application relates to commercial matters, it must also state the identification number of the legal entity and of the natural person engaged in business who is concerned.

If the application does not contain the prescribed elements or is incomprehensible or vague, the court invites the party to correct these shortcomings within the time limit prescribed. It the party fails to do so, the court suspends the proceedings.

The requisite number of copies of an application must be submitted so that the court has one copy and each party receives one copy too, if necessary.

10. Will I have to pay court charges?

Court fees are charged for proceedings before the courts in the Czech Republic, namely for the acts specified in the schedule of charges and for acts performed by the courts and the court administration. The amounts of these charges are laid down by Act No 549/1991 on court fees. Court fees are fixed as a lump sum or as a percentage of the value of the subject-matter of the proceedings.

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A number of cases (mainly non-contentious cases) are exempt from any charges. These "subject - exempt cases" include in particular matters relating to guardianship, adoption, care of minors, mutual maintenance duties of parents and children, etc. Such proceedings are not subject to any charges.

Applicants in the following proceedings are personally exempt from charges: fixing the amount of maintenance payments, compensation for damage to health resulting from accidents at work or occupational diseases, etc. Where the claimant is personally exempt from charges in proceedings and the court decides in his/her favour, the charges are to be paid by the defendant.

Furthermore, individual exemptions may also be granted having regard to a party's property and means. If the claimant is in material need owing to long-term unemployment, serious illness, etc., he/she may request the court for full or partial exemption from charges. The request should preferably be attached to his/her application. When deciding whether to grant exemption from court fees, the court takes into account the applicant's property and finances and his social circumstances, the amount of the court fee payable, the nature of the claim pursued, etc. However, exemption may not be granted for vexatious applications, applications with no prospect of success or applications in defence of a right. See also "Legal aid - Czech Republic".

A court fee is payable upon submission of an application to start proceedings. If it is not paid upon submission, the court invites the party to pay the charge and informs him that if it is not paid within the time limit prescribed, the proceedings will be suspended.

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11. Do I have to bear the costs of proceedings? If so, will I have to pay a lawyer right from the beginning? May I apply for a contribution towards the costs of proceedings?

See "Legal aid - Czech Republic".

12. From which moment is my action officially considered to have been brought? Will the authorities give me some confirmation that my case has been properly presented?

Court proceedings are considered to have started on the day the court receives the application or issues a resolution to start proceedings without an application. Once the application is received by the court, the proceedings are started; the court does not send any special confirmation that proceedings have been started. If the claim (application) is lodged in person through the court's reception office, confirmation of its submission can be requested in the form of a stamp on a copy of the application. If there are shortcomings in he submissions, the court will invite the parties to correct them. It the parties fail to do so within the time limit prescribed by the court, the proceedings are suspended.

13. Will I have detailed information about the timing of subsequent events (such as the time allowed for me to enter an appearance)?

No statutory time limits are prescribed within which the courts have to decide on complaints. Once proceedings have started, the court proceeds even if no further submissions are made. The court has to serve the claim (application to start proceedings) personally on the other parties to the proceedings. During the proceedings, the court advises the parties of their rights and duties. If it is necessary to take a certain procedural action, the court lays down the time limit within which this action must be performed. Parties to the proceedings and their representatives are entitled to consult the judicial file, except the record of the voting, and to make extracts from and copies of it. The presiding judge may authorise any person having a legal interest in the case or serious grounds for doing so to consult the file and make extracts from and copies of it, unless it is a file whose content must remain secret confidential under specific legal provisions.

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Last update: 15-01-2009

 
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