How long does it typically take from commencing proceedings to get to trial?


Pakistan Small Flag Pakistan

Regrettably, the actual practice varies significantly from the timelines stipulated under the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.

Because there is no case management system, the courts – particularly those subordinate to the High Court – have very little control over the proceedings and are unable to ensure that the timelines are strictly followed. It can therefore take much longer to get to trial than what is prescribed under law. This can take anything between 6 months to 2 years. In some cases, it may even take longer.

Malta Small Flag Malta

As regards proceedings in front of the courts of Malta, there is no set time-frame within which proceedings must be appointed for trail; therefore time-frames would entirely depend on the practices adopted by the Judge hearing the case. In practice however, following the filing of the court application Courts would normally adjourn the first hearing within six weeks from filing. The same would apply for proceedings instituted in front of the 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.

Russia Small Flag Russia

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.

Singapore Small Flag Singapore

This substantially depends on whether any interlocutory applications are taken out at the pre-trial stage. Nevertheless, pre-trial conferences expedite proceedings commenced in the courts, as part of a proactive case management system. This allows the Court to monitor the progress of cases and make the necessary directions to facilitate the process.

Spain Small Flag Spain

Timing may vary greatly from one court to another, especially depending on the workload. In Barcelona, for instance, trial usually takes place between 6 and 12 months after the claim is filed.

The average period of time taken by a commercial court to issue a decision (which may be subject to provisional enforcement even if appealed) is about a year and 14 months.

Indonesia Small Flag Indonesia

Theoretically, the Supreme Court set the following timeframe for commencing proceedings of a case filling for a trial:
Timeframe for commencing proceedings in Indonesia

In practice, the registration of a case until the first hearing day will take between 2 (two) weeks to 1 (one) month.

Germany Small Flag Germany

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.

Mexico Small Flag Mexico

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 reply.

Greece Small Flag Greece

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.

Monaco Small Flag Monaco

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.

Hong Kong Small Flag Hong Kong

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 application to fix date, which may fluctuate according to the year’s workload.

Italy Small Flag Italy

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.

Ireland Small Flag Ireland

The length of time from the date of issue of proceedings to trial varies depending on factors such as the urgency of the case and the extent of pre-trial steps required, for example, discovery. In a typical case, one might expect a trial date to be assigned within 12 - 18 months of admission to the Commercial List.

Switzerland Small Flag Switzerland

In contrast to common law legal systems, no distinction is made in Switzerland between pre-trial discovery, exchange of submissions and the actual trial. There is also no jury procedure. The decision is made in all points by the court. According to the Swiss system, the trial begins with the filing of the statement of claim. In commercial matters, the procedure is usually written. Each party is entitled to two complete submissions. Depending on the outcome of this exchange of submissions, a proceeding on taking of the evidence takes place, the outcome of which the parties may also comment on. In the context of such a procedure, document production requests of the parties, which were submitted by the parties within the framework of their pleadings are also be dealt with by the court.

Chile Small Flag Chile

Under Chilean procedural civil system proceedings commence by filing a claim and its service to the defendant by court´s ancillary clerks, called “Receptores”. As soon as a claim is served the trial starts with defendant´s fillings or hearings depending on the sort of proceeding. Just by promoting preliminary objections or “incidents” the commencement of the proceeding may be delay a few.

Sweden Small Flag Sweden

The timeline from commencing of proceedings to award varies considerably between the different courts. The district courts in Sweden’s major cities, and in particular the Stockholm District Court, have a greater number of commercial disputes than other district courts. While this means that those courts are more experienced in dealing with such cases, the court proceedings are often lengthier. The length of the proceedings is also to some extent dependent on whether the award is to be rendered by one or three judges, which depends on the nature and size of the case. Roughly estimated, it takes approximately one to two years from the commencing of proceedings to the award if the award is to be rendered by three judges and less if rendered by a sole judge. Large cases may, however, well exceed two years in the first instance.

Portugal Small Flag Portugal

Presently, barring any extraordinary delays/incidents, proceedings may get to trial within a period of 1 to 1.5 years.

UAE Small Flag UAE

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 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.

Saudi Arabia Small Flag Saudi Arabia

Proceedings before all Saudi Arabian courts and judicial tribunals, including the Commercial Court, are broadly similar to proceedings in Civil Law jurisdictions. Litigation takes place in a series of short hearings, which last between 15 minutes to 1 ½ hours. There are no pre-trial procedures as such, and there is no discovery of documents. Once the action is formally instituted, the parties are summoned to a hearing, usually within a few weeks of the filing of the complaint.

Norway Small Flag Norway

According to the Dispute Act, the main hearing may not be held more than six months after the date of submission of the writ of summons unless special circumstances make it necessary. Most district courts are able to fulfill this requirement, but not always. However, the main hearing is very rarely held more than one year after the date of submission of the writ of summons.

United States Small Flag United States

In federal court, the median time from filing a lawsuit to trial was 27 months in 2017. 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.

Austria Small Flag Austria

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.

Japan Small Flag Japan

According to the statistics publicised by the Supreme Court, as of 2014, it takes an average of 9.2 months for civil legal proceedings of first instance to get to trial (excluding suits against moneylenders for the return of overpayments, which constitute around 40% 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.

United Kingdom Small Flag United Kingdom

The basic timetable is dictated by the CPR, but considerable discretion is left to the Court to fix the deadlines for each stage of the process depending upon the complexity of the case. It is not uncommon to take at least 18 months to get to trial even for a relatively straightforward commercial dispute. Other cases can take much longer. Judges treat deadlines seriously and can impose sanctions on parties if they cause delays, such as costs or even striking out their case. The Shorter Trials Scheme pilot has proved popular and allows parties to get from issuing proceedings to judgment in less than a year. It is therefore worth considering this route for relatively simple claims with minimal disclosure and factual or expert evidence. Parties should, however, factor in the time for any appeals, which can be considerable as the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court are very busy.

Denmark Small Flag Denmark

There is no general rule for the duration of commercial litigation. Based on an average observation it takes one to two years from commencing proceedings to get to trial. It depends on the complexity of the case.

France Small Flag France

For disputes which are brought before the Commercial Court, the writ of summons (i) has to be served at least 15 days before the first hearing (which will only be a pre-trial conference) and (ii) has to be filed with the court registry no later than 8 days before the hearing.

It takes approximately 10 to 18 months for a case to be heard on the merits.

By way of exception, expedited proceedings on the merits can be initiated by way of writ of summons served on short notice (assignation à jour fixe or assignation à bref délais, depending on the relevant court). Such short notice summons may only be served with the authorisation of the Court, which may be sought by way of ex-parte application. Expedited proceedings generally take 2 to 4 months.

Summary proceedings concern urgent matters or matters where the facts cannot seriously be disputed are faster. In this case, a court ruling does not decide the case on the merits, but has only a provisional res judicata. In case of summary proceedings, the dispute is usually treated within a few weeks or months (sometimes a few days, when it is particularly urgent).

India Small Flag India

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.

Updated: August 29, 2018