How long does it typically take from commencing proceedings to get to trial?
Litigation (2nd edition)
In Austria, a trial starts with a preparatory hearing (“vorbereitende Tagsatzung”), in which the judge usually maps out a plan for the timing and content of the proceeding and elaborates possibilities for a settlement with the parties. The law sets no fixed timeline for proceedings and it is for the court to schedule oral hearings. Usually, it takes two to six months from the initiation of a process (i.e. the filing of a claim with the competent court) before a preparatory hearing is held, depending on available capacities.
According to the statistics publicised by the Supreme Court, as of 2016, it takes an average of 8.8 months for civil legal proceedings of first instance to get to trial (excluding suits against moneylenders for the return of overpayments, which constitute around 30% of the total claims in Japan and are often concluded within a shorter period of time). However, more significant or complex cases often take longer to reach the trial stage.
One reason for this short period is that civil proceedings in Japan do not have a US-style jury trial or discovery (see #14 below). In addition, as part of the procedure for intensive hearings, in practice, witness examinations are conducted in one or just a few hearing, often during the final phase of the legal proceedings. In addition, witness examination is not always required before a court can make its decision.
The average timeframe in front of the First Instance Court before oral pleadings take place ranges between 12 - 18 months unless there are any exceptional delays or incidents.
There is no mandatory requirement in China limiting the time from commencing civil litigation procedure to starting a trial. However, according to the CPL, a domestic civil litigation shall be completed within six months from commencement if ordinary procedure is applied, and three months if summary procedure is applied. Where there is a need for extension due to special circumstances, after acquiring the approval from the president of the court, an extension of no more than six months can be granted.
It is worth noting that for a litigation where foreign element is involved, there is no limitation of time for the court to close the case. The legislature generally contends that foreign related litigation is more complicated and time-consuming.
The Romanian law provides that the trial is started through submitting the statement of claims to the court by the claimant. Afterwards, a series of administrative matters are resolved by the Court, such as the random designation of a judge, who will conduct a regularization procedure. The object of this procedure is represented by verifying that the statement of claims meets all the formal prerequisites.
Once this stage is finalized, the Court shall proceed to conveying the statement of claims to the defendant, which has 25 days to submit his statement of defense. In 10 days after receiving the statement of defense, the claimant must submit its response.
After the completion of this stage, the judge establishes the date of the first court hearing, which is usually after several months from the moment when the statement of claims was submitted.
The length of time between commencement of proceedings and trial varies considerably depending, inter alia, on the nature of the proceedings, the District Court in which the proceedings are commenced and the workload of the particular judge to whom the proceedings are assigned. The level of backlogs in litigious civil and commercial cases is quite high and often results in serious delays in the processing of cases. On average the period between commencement of proceedings and trial at first instance is around four years. Drastic measures are in the course of being taken to deal with the problem of inordinate delays.
The time from commencing proceedings to get to trial varies for each case due to various factors, especially dependant on the complexity of the case and the extent to which the parties request expert evidence obtained. The average observation is that it takes between six months and two years from commencing proceedings to get to trial.
In order to commence a court case, the plaintiff must first submit its case writ to the court. The court schedules a date for the first hearing to review the case. The court usually schedules the first hearing within 1-3 months from the date of filing the claim. The court bailiff department serves a notice to the defendant with the case writ. The notice should be served within a thirty-day period. The notice period is longer if the defendant domiciles outside the Egyptian territory. The court proceedings should commence once the defendant is notified with the court case.
In civil legal systems, every hearing there is a 5 to 10 minutes oral pleadings including submitting documents. There are usually more than one hearing per case depending on the process.
The entire process may take from 1-3 years at the first instance court and the same before the court of appeal.
The court proceedings may take more time in several occasions such as if there are documents submitted in foreign languages which must be officially translated by the court and if the court refers the case to court appointed experts.
The statutory deadline for the whole consideration of a case is three months from the date of filing of a statement of claim. In practice, this is achievable only for simple cases and for more complex disputes the period can be extended to 4-6 months or even a year (for example, for corporate disputes).
In general, a first preliminary hearing is held one month after filing of a statement of claim. A hearing on the merits is ordinarily scheduled within one month after the preliminary hearing. However, depending on the circumstances of a case, the court may adjourn a hearing on the merits, which often happens in practice.
In Mexico, every trial begins with the filing of the corresponding complaint before the appropriate Civil Court. Once the complaint has been filed, the Judge will issue (in three to five days) a ruling ordering the summon of the defendants. Once the defendants are served and summoned to court, they will have 15 business days to file their reply, except in the case of the executive commercial trial, in which defendants have 8 business days to file their answer. Immediately afterwards, the plaintiff will have three days to reply the answer to the complaint and the court will open the case for the evidence phase.
As a rule of thumb, it usually takes from six to twelve months until the court holds the first oral hearing. In commercial cases, the judges often grant the parties at least two rounds of written submissions before the oral hearing starts. Only in exceptional cases will German judges schedule an “early first hearing” (früher erster Termin), usually with the intention of helping the parties to settle the dispute amicably.
The period between commencement of proceedings and trial depends on each case. After a writ of summons is served and before the pleadings are closed, the plaintiff and defendant are required by the Rules to meet various deadlines for filing their acknowledgement of service of writ, giving notice of intention to defend, serving a statement of claim (if not endorsed on the writ), filing and serving a defence or defence and counterclaim, filing and serving a reply to the defence and/or a defence to the counterclaim. Thereafter, the first case management conference held shortly after the close of pleadings will fix the procedural timetable for subsequent phases of the proceedings, including discovery and exchange of witness statements and/or filing of experts’ reports. Then, after the court’s direction for setting down, the parties will apply to fix a hearing date. The target waiting time in the CFI for a hearing date for the civil fixture list is 180 days from the application to fix date, which may fluctuate according to the year’s workload.
There is no fixed timeframe in place for progression of a case from commencement of proceedings to a trial. Litigation in Guernsey is a flexible procedure in accordance with the complexity of the dispute, the approach the parties take and the workload of the Court.
It is possible for many commercial claims to reach trial in around 12 to 18 months from commencement of proceedings, but timings are very much dependent on the individual dispute.
The time taken from commencing proceedings to getting the dispute to trial in the Civil Courts of India largely depends upon the nature and complexity of the dispute, the number of counter parties involved, the place where the proceedings have been instituted and the backlog of pending cases in the court where the proceedings have been instituted.
However, in general, considering the large number of cases pending across all courts/ forums in India, the process is fairly time consuming. The ratio of judges-population in India is also very low as a result of which, it could take anywhere between two to five years for a civil proceeding to come to the stage of trial.
Pertinently, with a view to make timelines stricter, the Code was amended in 2002 to provide that the time limit for filing the written statement shall be thirty days, further extendable by the Court, for reasons in writing, up to a maximum of ninety days from the date of service of summons.
In an endeavour to further expedite the proceedings, the Commercial Courts Act was also enacted in the year 2015. It inter alia provides that a case management hearing shall be held within four weeks from the filing of affidavit of admission/denial of documents. In this hearing, a further schedule is required to be fixed so that arguments in the matter are completed within a period of six months and the judgment is then pronounced within ninety days of the conclusion of arguments between parties.
The Arbitration Act was also amended in 2015 with a view to expedite arbitration proceedings taking place in India. These amendments inter alia require the arbitral tribunal to make its award within a period of twelve months from the commencement of arbitration proceedings, which timeline can be mutually extended by the parties by a further period of six months. However, in case the award is not made within the aforesaid period of eighteen months from the date of arbitrator entering reference upon the matter, then an extension of time has to be sought from the concerned court.
Isle of Man
Much depends on the nature of the claim and any interlocutory applications and appeals but in straight forward non- urgent matters typically within 6-9 months. The Deemsters are mindful of the need for litigation to be conducted as reasonably and as quickly as possible.
Between service of summons and the first hearing 90 or 150 days shall lapse, depending on whether the defendant is domiciled in Italy or abroad.
On average, ordinary proceedings then take about 300 days to get to the taking of evidence phase. Less than half the time is required in case of arbitration.
Ordinarily, after exchange of pleadings, pre-trial, court-annexed mediation, and judicial dispute resolution, trial may start four (4) to six (6) months from commencement of proceedings. However, other factors, such as the complexity of the issues, the case load of the court, and other possible interlocutory challenges, like motions to dismiss, motions for bill of particulars, and complex discovery procedures, may extend the period above mentioned.
Presently, barring any extraordinary delays/incidents, proceedings may get to trial within a period of 1 to a 1,5 years.
The law does not stipulate a specific period within which the court should schedule a preliminary hearing or first trial. The first trial is usually scheduled within 3 to 9 months of the action filing date, in dependence upon the workload of the court and the type of claim.
According to the statistics of the Ministry of Justice of the Slovak Republic, the average duration of civil proceedings in 2017 was 20.8 months in civil matters and 21.6 months in business matters.
In less complex cases, the proceedings in a district court take approximately one year. In complex cases, it is not uncommon for proceedings to last two or three years. Proceedings in the courts of appeal and the Supreme Court are usually faster than district court proceedings.
Time frames and procedures for claims vary depending upon the court and division in which the relevant claim is issued and the nature of the claim itself. As a general rule, it is not uncommon for a claim to take at least 18 months to get to trial even where it is a relatively straightforward commercial dispute. High-value multijurisdictional cases involving multiple parties often take much longer. The deadlines for different stages in the proceedings usually may be extended by parties’ agreement and/or by application to the court. However, once a trial date has been set, the court will be very reluctant to move any dates in a way that could lead to a postponement of the trial. In October 2015 the Shorter Trials Scheme was introduced in the Business and Property Courts in London. The scheme is open to cases that can be tried in no more than four days with the intention that a trial will take place within 10 months of proceedings being issued.
a. The commercial courts: within two months.
b. BCDR: within four months.
There is no pre-trial phase to filter cases. All cases involving litigation, except criminal matters, go directly to trial without a pre-trial stage even though it may lack any merit.
In practice, the registration of a case up to the first day of hearing will take between 2 weeks to 1 month. Please note that if the defendant is domiciled outside of the jurisdiction of the Republic of Indonesia, the court will allow 3 months between the summon and the hearing.
Typically, the Sessions Court and the High Court aim to dispose of cases within nine (9) months whilst the Magistrate’s Court six (6) months from the date of commencement of proceedings.
This timeline was first implemented by a former Chief Justice of Malaysia and also documented by way of a Practice Direction No.2 of 2014 for expeditious disposal of civil and commercial cases.
However, this timeline is merely directive and may be extended depending on the number of interlocutory applications filed by parties to the proceedings and the complexity of each case.
In the Chilean civil and commercial system there is the possibility of directly filing a lawsuit before the ordinary courts of justice. Therefore, as a general rule, the "trial" commences with the filing and subsequent notification of the respective complaint, without requiring compliance with any prior requirements for the commencement of the trial (e.g. discovery).
In addition, ordinary courts are considered a public service in the sense that no fee or litigation fare can be charged on any party upon filing their complaint or answer.
However, there is also the possibility of trials starting with the so-called 'pretrial measures' (interim measures and injunctions are allowed but no formal discovery is contemplated before trial). In certain types of interim measures and injunctions the law establishes a time limit to present the respective complaint, which will never exceed 30 working days.
With respect to arbitrations, certain previous procedures must be fulfilled. If the parties specifically named the person who will be the arbitrator, it is necessary to notify him or her to accept the charge and swear to perform it faithfully and in the shortest possible time. Now, if the arbitrator is not named namely, it will be necessary to go to the ordinary justice, or to an arbitration institution (ICC type of institution), to designate the person who will play the role of arbitrator in the litigation.
As regards proceedings in front of the courts of Malta, there is no set time-frame within which proceedings must be appointed for trial; therefore time-frames would entirely depend on the practices adopted by the Judge/s hearing the case. In practice however, following the filing of the court application, the Courts would normally adjourn the first hearing within six weeks from filing. The same would apply for proceedings instituted in front of the arbitration tribunal and in front of specialised tribunals.
As an exception to the above, special summary proceedings filed in the courts of Malta in connection with a debt collection claim that is certain liquid and due must be adjourned for hearing not earlier than fifteen days and not later than thirty dates following the service of the sworn application on the respondent.
Generally, and subject to a number of exceptions, the initiation of state court civil proceedings in Switzerland must be preceded by a conciliation hearing before the conciliation authority (the so-called Justice of Peace). In practice, these conciliation hearings often prove to be successful in cases with a low value in dispute (the settlement rate can exceed 50 per cent). However, in cases where the amount in dispute is high, settlements are only rarely achieved during the conciliation hearing. Consequently, the CCP allows the parties to consensually waive the holding of such a conciliation hearing and to file the claim directly with the court of first instance if the value in dis-pute exceeds CHF 100'000. In certain cases, inter alia, if the defendant is domiciled outside Swit-zerland or if its whereabouts are unknown, a plaintiff may unilaterally waive the holding of a con-ciliation hearing. Moreover, in cases where the commercial court has jurisdiction (see questions 1 and 3), no conciliation hearing is required and the lawsuit can be filed directly with the commer-cial court.
In cases where the conciliation hearing is necessary but remains unsuccessful, the conciliation authority will record this fact and grant the plaintiff the authorisation to proceed to the court of first instance. The plaintiff then needs to file its claim with the competent first instance court, generally within a time period of three months. Should a plaintiff let such deadline lapse, it will need to re-start the process by filing a new request for a conciliation hearing as described be-fore.
At the court level, unless the law expressly provides otherwise, the claims must be submitted and handled by the court in application of the rules on ordinary proceedings (the CCP foresees three principal types of proceedings: ordinary, simplified and summary proceedings).
As a matter of principle, ordinary proceedings can be split up into three phases:
- the pleading phase, in which each party is entitled to two complete submissions in order to present and substantiate the factual basis of their claims and defenses and to offer evidence for the alleged facts;
- the evidentiary phase, where the courts hear and review the evidence presented by the parties; and
- the post-hearing phase where the parties may comment on the outcome of the evidence proceedings and the court renders its decision.
In terms of duration, a period of between one and three years can be taken as a benchmark for a full litigation under the ordinary proceedings in the first instance, depending on the complexity of the facts and further depending on whether or not the conduct of an extensive evidentiary proce-dure is necessary.
Within the context of the ordinary procedure, a time period of 100 days is provided between the filing date of an action and the filing date of the pleadings (which is extended to 130 days in the event the defendant is a resident of a third country or of an unknown residence). Within 15 days from the submission of the pleadings the parties may submit rejoinders rebutting arguments introduced with the pleadings. The hearing of the case that follows is a rather typical process taking place within the next few months subject to the actual capacity of the court.
In the particular monetary proceedings (such as proceedings related to lease agreements or disputes arising from securities) the hearing of the case is set by the Court on the filing date of the lawsuit within a period ranging between six months and one year.
In cases, where the claim is proven by documents issued or accepted by the defendant, a payment order may be issued in an expedient ex parte procedure. Said order may be challenged by the defendant before the competent courts.
According to The Norwegian Dispute Act, the main hearing is to be scheduled within six months after the date of submission of the writ of summons unless there are special circumstances. In practice, it will usually take longer than 6 months from commencing proceedings in commercial disputes to get to trial. However, the main hearing is rarely held more than one year after commencing proceedings.
The duration of the trial depends on the type of procedure: the oral procedure (applicable in commercial matters, except if the written procedure has been opted for) is, in principle, significantly shorter than the written procedure. The written procedure may be spread over a period of one to two years.
In federal court, the median time from filing a civil lawsuit to trial was 27.5 months in 2018. In state court, the time to trial may be longer or shorter, depending on the jurisdiction. Based on model time standards published by the National Association for Court Management in 2011, the recommended upper limit for time from the date of filing to the date of disposition of a general civil case is 18 months.
Dutch courts generally order a personal appearance after the first round of written submissions (writ of summons and statement of defence). A personal appearance is held to attempt an out-of-court settlement and/or to obtain additional information. In straightforward cases, a personal appearance takes place within six to twelve months after proceedings are commenced. In more complex cases and/or when parties submit incidental motions, the timing may be different.
Proceedings may be summary and ordinary; they may take between 10 and 14 months, respectively, until a second-tier oral resolution is forthcoming. A resolution by the National Court of Justice may take an additional period of six months. Times increase when cases are complex.
If, in extraordinary circumstances, a case reaches the Constitutional Court, its final resolution could be delayed a further two years.
The procedures which precede going to trial are not extensive and consist of mainly filing the claim and notifying the opponent/s of the claim.
Pursuant to Article 42 of the Civil Procedures Law, the claim is filed at the request of the plaintiff after the submission of the statement of claim with the Court Registrar or electronically.
There are certain requirements which should be met when filing a claim such as the contents of the statement of claim, and once these requirements are met the court then notifies the defendant\s of the claim and the date of the first hearing which is usually within 10 days from the date of notification.
In recent years, the Case Management Office was established to ensure that all requirements are met before transferring the file to the relevant court panel.
In conclusion, the time frame from filing a claim until the first hearing is not lengthy unless there are certain complications the most common of which is not being able to locate and notify a party.
According to the data available on www.doingbusiness.org, the average length of judicial procedures concerning contract enforcement makes up to 570 days, although taking into account our practice we can state that two years is an approximate minimum length of the proceedings in courts.