What is the structure and organisation of local courts dealing with commercial claims? What is the final court of appeal?
Litigation (2nd edition)
In general, the Austrian civil court system has three instances. In the first instance, the competent court for civil and commercial disputes is either a district court (“Bezirksgericht”) or a regional court (“Landesgericht”) depending on the subject-matter and the value in dispute. It should be noted that commercial disputes are governed by the same procedural rules as civil law disputes.
District courts have jurisdiction in cases involving a value in dispute of up to EUR 15,000. Regional courts have jurisdiction over disputes exceeding EUR 15,000 as well as in all competition or intellectual property matters and with regard to specific statutes such as the Data Protection Act, irrespective of the amount in dispute.
In Vienna, two specialised commercial courts exist. One is the Commercial District Court Vienna and the other, the Commercial Court Vienna as regional court for commercial matters. Outside of Vienna, the above-mentioned ordinary courts decide as commercial courts.
Judgments of first instance may be appealed to either regional or higher regional courts depending on whether a district or regional court decided in the first place. A further appeal against that decision to the Austrian Supreme Court (“Oberste Gerichtshof”) is possible in limited circumstances (for more information please see question 17 below).
There are three levels of courts in Japan: the district courts, the high courts, and the Supreme Court. The district courts are local courts that function as the court of first instance for lawsuits. Generally speaking, there are no courts of first instance which deal specifically with commercial claims, but the district courts in large prefectures such as Tokyo and Osaka have courts that specialise in certain types of disputes, such as corporate, intellectual property, administration, labour and bankruptcy.
Decisions of the district courts may be appealed to the high courts. One branch of the Tokyo High Court specialises in intellectual property matters. Decisions of the high courts may be appealed to the Supreme Court, which is the final court of appeal.
Local courts are organized as follows:
- First Instance Court depending on the value of the matter (above €4,600)
- Appeal Court
- Supreme Court
China has only one unified court system, which is comprised of courts of four levels. The Supreme People’s Court of China is the highest judicial authority in China. Below the Supreme People’s Court are the Higher People’s Court at the provincial level, Intermediate People’s Court at city level and Basic People’s Court at county and municipal district levels. Generally, most of the cases are commenced before the Basic People’s Court. However, based on the seriousness and amount in dispute, certain cases may start from the Intermediate People’s Court or Higher People’s Court for trial of first instance. In principle, the Supreme People’s Court may also hear the first instance case, but in reality, that is extremely rare. Foreign related cases are generally commenced before the Intermediate People’s Court, if not higher.
China has also set up specialized court in certain cities, like intellectual property court, maritime court, financial court, internet court, etc.
Litigation parties are entitled to appeal only once under the Chinese law. The court of second instance may reject the appeal, directly amend the judgement of first instance, or remand the case to the court of first instance for a re-trial. The judgment will come into effectiveness after the judgment is rendered by the court of second instance. After the judgement comes into effectiveness, if any of the parties believes that there is mistake in the effective judgement, it may apply for a re-examination to the court which is one level higher than the court who makes the effective judgement. The higher court will review the re-examination application and make its decision. The court which makes the effective judgement or its higher courts may also re-examine a case on its own initiative, should they find that there is mistake in the effective judgements.
Large commercial disputes, though not defined by the as a specific type of litigation, are usually brought to Tribunals as first instance courts. The Tribunals are organised at a county level and in the Bucharest municipality. For a case to be allocated to a tribunal in the first degree of jurisdiction, its object must be of a value that exceeds RON 200.000 (approximately EUR 43,000).
The Tribunals are organised in specialised divisions, dealing with civil, commercial, criminal, labour or administrative matters. Currently there also exist three specialised commercial Tribunals, which have material jurisdiction over cases regarding Commercial and Insolvency Law.
The Tribunals’ judgements can be appealed. The appeal shall be judged by the competent Court of Appeal, whose decision may be the object of an appeal for review before the High Court of Cassation and Justice.
All commercial claims are initiated in a District Court. There are five District Courts in Cyprus, one for each geographic district (Nicosia, Limassol, Paphos, Larnaca and Famagusta). There are three ranks of judges in each District Courts, namely District Judges, Senior Judges and Presidents of the District Court. Upon filing, a claim will be allocated to a judge based on the value of the claim. Claims up to €100.000 are allocated to a District Judge, claims exceeding €100.0000 but not exceeding €500.000 are allocated to a Senior District Judge and claims in excess of €500.000 are allocated to a President of the District Court.
The final court of appeal is the Supreme Court of Cyprus. Appeals against first-instance judgments rendered in commercial claims are heard and determined by a panel of three Supreme Court Judges. There are no intermediate appellate courts.
The Danish local courts are structured in three levels. The principal rule is that all cases start in the district courts (in Danish: byret). From the district courts appeal can be lodged to the two High Courts (in Danish: landsret). The final court of appeal is the Supreme Court (in Danish: Højesteret) that almost exclusively reviews cases of general public importance or matters of principle.
Additionally, there is the Maritime and Commercial High Court (in Danish: Sø- og Handelsretten). In cases regarding EU trademarks and EU design, it is mandatory for the case to be heard at the Maritime and Commercial High Court. The Maritime and Commercial High Court does also have subject-matter jurisdiction in particular categories of cases, such as international cases where expertise in international business is important, unless the parties have agreed otherwise.
The Egyptian court system for civil proceedings is split into two main court systems, the civilian and the administrative courts.
Civilian courts are three-tiered with the Court of First Instance, the court of appeal and the Court of Cassation. There are also small claims courts which take the place of the Court of First Instance depending on the claims.
Courts of Appeal are located in most major cities in Egypt. Their mission is to review decisions related to civil matters issued by the Courts of First Instance.
There are also courts of special jurisdiction that run in parallel to the civil and administrative courts mentioned above, such as the Economic Courts, the Supreme Constitutional Court, the Family Courts and the Environmental Courts all of which deal with specific issues.
The Economic Courts have a very confined jurisdiction concerned resolving certain commercial disputes governed by the Egyptian Commercial Code, Egyptian Banking Law, Egyptian Capital Market Law, Egyptian Companies Law and other laws. The Economic Courts have their own appeal circuits within the court.
There is only one Court of Cassation which is located in Cairo. It is considered the highest judicial body in the Egyptian court system. The Court of Cassation’s main objective is to provide a comprehensive and uniform interpretation of the law.
The system of commercial courts in Russia consists of four levels. The first instance courts are the courts of the regions of the Russian Federation, their total number is 85. Save for several exceptions (e.g. the Saint-Petersburg and Leningrad Region, the Nenetskiy Autonomous Circuit and some other) there is one such court in each republic, region, federally subordinated city, etc in Russia.
Decisions of the first instance courts may be appealed to one of the 21 Commercial Appellate Courts. Subsequently, cassation appeals may be filed with one of the 10 Circuit Commercial Courts. Since there are two cassation stages under the Commercial Procedural Code, second cassation appeal may be submitted to the Chamber on Economic Disputes of the Supreme Court.
Ultimately, decisions may be challenged on the very limited number of grounds (e.g due to violation of certain fundamental rights and freedoms by lower courts’ decisions) before the Presidium of the Supreme Court (see Section 17).
In addition to this general structure of commercial courts, there is also the Intellectual Rights Court. That court acts as the first instance court in relation to specific categories of cases involving intellectual rights. The Intellectual Rights Court also considers cassation appeals against decisions of the first instance and appellate courts on intellectual rights disputes.
Regarding commercial claims, in Mexico City, the local Court of Justice is composed of 73 civil courts, 26 small claims courts, 20 oral proceedings courts, and 11 Civil Courts of Appeals, each one of them composed of 3 Appeal Judges..
However, the final judgment in commercial proceeding is subject to an Amparo Directo, which constitutes a new proceeding regarding Constitutional violations, which is tried before the Federal Circuit Courts.
Commercial disputes usually start in the civil division of the regional court (Landgericht); in small claim disputes (where the amount in disputes is EUR 5,000 or less), the local court (Amtsgericht) has jurisdiction.
In general, cases in the civil division of the regional courts are dealt with by chambers of three professional judges but the chamber usually hears a case by one of its members acting as a judge sitting alone (Einzelrichter). Upon request of one of the parties, cases can also be heard by a special chamber for commercial matters consisting of one professional judge and two lay judges acting as “commercial judges” (cf. sec. 96 (1), 98 (1), 105 (1) GVG).
The competent court of appeal is either the regional court in matters before the local court or the higher regional court (Oberlandesgericht) in matters before the regional court. The Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof), as the final court of appeal, deals only with appeal proceedings on points of law.
Moreover, the Higher Regional Court of Cologne – as well as its associated Regional Courts in Aachen, Bonn and Cologne – and the Regional Court of Frankfurt on the Main have established special commercial law chambers allowing for oral hearings in English. In 2018, a draft bill for a respective federal law was submitted to Parliament.
There are two levels of court dealing with civil claims of substance at first instance: the District Court (which has jurisdiction on claims for an amount over HK$75,000 but not more than HK$3 million) (the lower and upper limits were previously HK$50,000 and HK$1 million respectively, before the increase came into effect in December 2018) and the Court of First Instance (“CFI”), which has unlimited jurisdiction. Large-scale commercial disputes are typically adjudicated in the CFI.
The Court of Appeal (“CA”) hears appeals from both the CFI and the District Court. The Court of Final Appeal (“CFA”) is the highest court in Hong Kong and is made up of local permanent judges and distinguished judges from England, Australia and New Zealand who serve as non-permanent judges. It hears appeals from the CA and the CFI.
There are three separate jurisdictions within the Bailiwick of Guernsey: Guernsey, Alderney and Sark. The judicial systems in Alderney and Sark are separate and outside of the scope of this note.
The Royal Court of Guernsey is formed of five divisions:
- Court of Chief Pleas;
- Full Court;
- Ordinary Court;
- Court de Plaids d’Heritage; and
- Matrimonial Cause Division.
Commercial disputes are usually heard by the Royal Court sitting as the Ordinary Court. The Ordinary Court is presided over by a single judge (either the Bailiff, Deputy Bailiff, a Lieutenant Bailiff or a Judge of the Royal Court) who may sit with Jurats. The Jurats are appointed lay members of the community who, when sitting, are the sole arbiters of fact in civil trials and have a similar role to that of jurors in proceedings in the UK.
Appeals from the Royal Court sitting as the Ordinary Court are heard in the Guernsey Court of Appeal. Final appeals lie to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council only if leave is obtained from the Guernsey Court of Appeal or the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and if the value of the claim exceeds £500.
In India, the court of the District Judge is the highest court for each district and there are various courts subordinate to the court of the District Judge. Each state comprises of a number of such districts, and the court of the District Court in each district is subordinate to the High Court of that particular State (which may have a bench at more than one place in the said State).
Finally, the High Court of each state is subordinate to the apex court/final court of appeal in the country i.e. the Supreme Court of India. An appeal may be filed in the Supreme Court against a decision of the High Court, if the High Court certifies that the case involves a substantial question of law of general importance. However, additionally, the Supreme Court may also grant special leave to appeal from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence or order in any cause or matter passed or made by any court or tribunal in the territory of India.
Additionally, as stated above, there are various specialised tribunals/forums such as the NCLT, DRT, etc. which have been established under different statutory enactments. Any appeal against the orders passed by these Tribunals lies to their respective Appellate Tribunal.
Isle of Man
A claim would be commenced in the High Court at first instance before a Deemster. An appeal lies from a decision of a Deemster at first instance to the local Appeal Division (presided over by a fulltime resident Judge of Appeal and at least one other Deemster) and thereafter, with leave, to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council which is the final appeal court for the Isle of Man. In Morris v Assessor of Income Tax the Appeal Division Judge of Appeal Storey QC and Deemsters Doyle and Birt, in a judgment delivered on 22 December 2017, reiterated the test to be applied when considering whether leave should be granted.
Commercial disputes are treated in the first instance, like any civil litigation, by the ordinary court responsible for value, matter and territory (Giudice di pace or Tribunale). The decisions of the Giudice di pace can be challenged before the Tribunale which has territorial competence, while the decisions of the Tribunale can be challenged before the territorially competent Corte d’Appello . The appeal before the Corte di Cassazione can be lodged against the decisions of the court of second instance, but only for the matters of law strictly provided for by article 360 of the code of civil procedure.
Among the commercial disputes some subjects fall under the competence of the Tribunale delle Imprese, a section specializing in the field of business law established in the courts and courts of appeal which are located in the capital of each region, with the exception of Lombardy, Trentino Alto Adige and Sicily (where there are two locations) and Valle D'Aosta (where there are no offices, as the competence is in Turin).
The Tribunale delle Imprese has jurisdiction over disputes relating to legal proceedings concerning industrial property and unfair competition, employees’ inventions, protection of company secret information, compensation for expropriation of industrial property rights, disputes over copyright, disputes regarding agreements, abuse of dominant position and mergers, disputes relating to the violation of the antitrust legislation of the European Union.
The Tribunale delle Imprese is also competent to adjudicate disputes concerning: a) corporate relations, liability actions, opposition of company creditors related to several matters; b) the transfer of corporate investments or related rights; c) the shareholders' agreements; d) the liability actions brought by the creditors of the subsidiaries against the companies that control them; e) the reports concerning the subsidiaries pursuant to art. 2359, paragraph 1, n. 3) of the civil code, the companies exercising the management and coordination activities pursuant to art. 2497-septies of the civil code and the cooperative societies pursuant to art. 2545-septies of the civil code.
The Philippine court system has four levels, comprised of municipal or metropolitan trial courts, regional trial courts, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court.
As mentioned above, certain commercial cases, i.e., intellectual property cases, intra-corporate disputes, cases involving maritime laws, and rehabilitation, are handled by regional trial courts designated as special commercial courts.
In case the commercial dispute purely involves a monetary claim, the claim should be filed before a municipal or metropolitan trial court if the amount of the claim or personal property involved does not exceed P300,000.00 or approximately USD5,770.00 (outside Metro Manila), or P400,000.00 or approximately USD6,792.00 (in Metro Manila). If the commercial dispute involves real property, the claim should be filed before a municipal or metropolitan trial court if the assessed value of the property does not exceed P20,000.00 or approximately USD384.00 (outside Metro Manila), or P50,000.00 or approximately USD961.00 (in Metro Manila).
Should the commercial claim exceed these threshold amounts, the case should be filed before a regional trial court.
In either case, Philippine rules of procedure provide for an appeal process to the Court of Appeals, and ultimately, to the Supreme Court as the final court of appeal.
The local courts structure and organization is as follows:
- First Instance Courts - allocated to districts and with material jurisdiction;
- Court of Appeal – allocated to 5 districts which cover all national territory;
- Supreme Court.
Constitutional Court – an appeal can be submitted to this court in specific situations and in order to argue the constitutionality of a law applied in a particular case.
The system of general courts in Slovakia consists of district courts that are the courts of first instance, regional courts that are the courts of appeals against decisions of the courts of first instance, and the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic that is the appellate review court. Unlike an appeal, an appellate review is an extraordinary remedial measure admissible only against valid decisions of lower courts and should rectify most serious errors.
For completeness we point out that the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic may be a court of appeals in certain cases if a regional court is the court of first instance – e.g. in the case of proceedings on abstract control in consumer matters.
The Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic stands outside the general courts system and decides on constitutional matters.
Swedish general courts form a three-tiered system; district courts, courts of appeal and the Supreme Court. There are also specialised courts which determine disputes within specific areas, for example the Labour Court, the Environmental Court and the Patent and Market Court. More information on the Swedish court system can be retrieved at http://www.domstol.se/Funktioner/English/The-Swedish-courts/.
Leave to appeal is required for all appeals. Whilst the Supreme Court normally grants leave only for the purpose of establishing a precedent, the appellate courts will also give leave to appeal if there are or may be reasons to change the ruling of the lower court or if it is necessary to rehear the case in order to determine whether or not there is reason to change the decision of the lower court.
Depending on the value and complexity of the dispute, a civil claim can be brought in either the County Court or the High Court. Most large commercial cases (including high-value multijurisdictional cases) are heard by the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales, which is a division of the High Court. The Business and Property Courts consist of multiple divisions, including the Admiralty Court, the Business List, the Commercial Court, the Competition List and the Financial List. The Court of Appeal hears appeals from the High Court and, in certain circumstances, from the County Court and various tribunals. The final court of appeal is the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, which was created pursuant to the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. The Supreme Court only hears cases involving a point of law of general public importance.
The structure of the local courts in Bahrain is the following:
a. The commercial courts:
- The commercial courts starts with the case management phase which is a phase dedicated to collation of submissions, arguments and defenses to prepare the case file before submitting the same to courts. The case shall then be submitted to the first instance court which shall be either the minor commercial court or the high commercial court, depending on the nature of the case or the value of the claim as detailed under the CCPL.
- Following issuance of the first instance court judgment, any of the parties may appeal the judgment issued by the Minor Commercial Court before the High Court of Appeal, or the judgment issued by the High Commercial Court before the Upper Court of Appeal.
- The final stage of appeal in Bahrain is the Court of Cassation which may not be categorised as a litigation stage as it is specialized in reviewing the application of the law by the lower courts and does not rule on the merits of the case.
b. The BCDR on the other hand consists of a case management phase which is also a preparatory phase of the case before it is referred to the BCDR Tribunal, the BCDR Tribunal which will deliberate the merits of the case and render a final judgment. The BCDR Tribunal judgment may be appealed before the Court of Cassation only for the reasons provided under Article (13) of the BCDR law.
There are no special courts to try commercial disputes. Even though the judicial system is based on French law, where specialized commercial courts do exist, in the Dominican Republic commercial disputes are heard in ordinary civil courts, henceforth there are civil and commercial chambers instead of individualized civil or commercial courts. Conversely, there are ongoing efforts to evolve from this system; for example, at the end of 2018 the Judicial Branch added two new courtrooms in the civil and commercial chambers of Santo Domingo (the country’s capital) that only try commercial matters, not sharing the civil part. It is still too early to gauge its impact, but it could definitively become the commencement of a new era in commercial disputes.
There are basically four hierarchies of courts within the Judicial Branch: the Justices of Peace (for complaints involving small amounts, composed by a single judge), the Courts of First Instance (that hear the majority of cases, as all complaints that are not explicitly deferred to another court must be heard by these courts, which are composed by a single judge as well), the Courts of Appeals (that hear the appeals of the decisions rendered by the Courts of First Instance on a trial de novo basis and are composed by panels of three to five judges), and the Supreme Court (which simply examines the legality of the decisions, mainly from the Courts of Appeals). There’s a fifth type of court, the Constitutional Court (13 judges), but it is not part of the Judicial Branch, and it may overturn decisions from the Supreme Court whenever the Constitution is infringed, although this is uncommon.
The general courts are divided into 3 levels. The court of the first instance is the District Court. The District Court’s decision may be appealed to the High Court and in turn, the High Court’s decision may be appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s decision is called a cassation judgment. These stages are defined as ordinary legal remedies. In addition, the law also empowers the Supreme Court to adjudicate an extraordinary legal remedy, namely a judicial review.
The grounds to file a judicial review lies on extraordinary circumstances, e.g. inter alia the finding of a new evidence that was not available before the issuance of a cassation judgment. In this regard, to ensure legal certainty for the winning party, the cassation judgment is considered as a final and binding judgment. Hence, the judicial review process will not hinder the execution of the cassation judgment. Nevertheless, if the judicial review process results in a different judgment, the cassation judgment will be overruled by the restitution from the remedies obtained.
Generally, the hierarchy of the court structure in Malaysia are classified into the subordinate courts and the superior courts.
The Magistrate’s Court and Sessions Court which are part of the subordinate courts and the High Court (consisting of the High Court of Malaya and the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak) which is one of the superior courts have original jurisdiction to hear commercial claims. A commercial claim may be commenced in any of these courts, depending on which court has the jurisdiction to hear the matter.
The appellate courts are the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court. The Federal Court is the final court of appeal and/or the apex court.
The court structure in Malaysia is as illustrated as follows:-
As we have already pointed out, the first instance of civil and commercial disputes may be handled either by the Civil court, or by an arbitrator (the latter if all parties agree). The Civil courts are the competent ones to know of all the civil and commercial cases, unless the parties have agreed arbitration.
There are also the so-called Court of Appeals, which have the authority to review on appeal, both the facts and the law applied to the decision of the case. Upon their review, the court´s decision can be upheld or reversed (totally or partially). Both the final judgment and other types of interlocutory resolutions that are issued during the procedure can be revised by the Court of Appeals.
The direct hierarchical superior of all appellate courts is the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the country. This court is the last resort to which the litigants can apply, and against its resolutions there are no further challenges. However, it should be borne in mind that not all judgments can reach the Supreme Court level of review, because only certain remedies against certain types of resolutions can be presented to the highest court.
Of course, it is very common for parties to waive, in advance, the possibility of appealing against the decisions of the arbitrators. It has been understood, however, that this waiver of appeals, annulments and complaints, does not produce full effects, as certain types of those are inalienable by litigants under due process provisions of the Constitution and the Chilean Courts Organization Code (typically disciplinary complaints and the annulment for certain causes).
Commercial claims generally heard and decided by the Superior Courts of Malta.
The First Hall of the Civil Court is divided into four sections which are: the Family Section, the Voluntary Jurisdiction Section, the Commercial Section and a section vested with general jurisdiction which is styled as the First Hall of the Civil Court. The First Hall of the Civil Court is generally vested with competence to determine claims of a civil and commercial nature, however any applications falling within the competence of the Civil Court and which relate to matters regulated by the Companies Act (for example bankruptcy proceedings, insolvency proceedings, winding-up proceedings, and unfair prejudice proceedings) are to be assigned to the Civil Court (Commercial Section).
As regards monetary claims, the Civil Court and the Court of Magistrates (Gozo) in its superior jurisdiction are vested with competence to hear and determine all monetary claims of an amount exceeding fifteen thousand euro (€15,000).
The Court of Magistrates (Malta) and the Court of Magistrates (Gozo) in its inferior jurisdiction are vested with competence to hear and determine all monetary claims of an amount not exceeding fifteen thousand euro (€15,000) and not below five thousand and one euro (€5,001). As explained above, all monetary claims of an amount not exceeding five thousand euro (€5,000) are heard and determined by the Small Claims Tribunal subject to certain exceptions that may be laid down in the law. In this respect, it is important to note that causes involving questions of ownership of immovable property, or relating to easements, burdens or other rights annexed to such property, even though the claim does not exceed five thousand euro (€5,000), and causes of ejectment or eviction from immovable property do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Tribunal.
The Court of Appeal (presided over by three judges) hears and determines all appeals from judgments of the Civil Court and the Court of Magistrates (Gozo) in its superior jurisdiction. Appeals from the inferior courts of Malta shall also be heard by the Court of Appeal, however, for the purpose of such appeals the Court of Appeal would be constituted by one judge only.
Additionally the laws of Malta provide for the establishment of specialised tribunals which determine commercial disputes of a special commercial nature. Specialised tribunals include the following:
(a) The Financial Services Tribunal which is set up by the Malta Financial Services Authority Act (Chapter 330 of the Laws of Malta) and is vested with the competence to determine disputes in relation to decisions made by the Malta Financial Services Authority;
(b) The Competition and Consumer Appeals Tribunal which is set up by the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority Act (Chapter 510 of the Laws of Malta) and determines appeals from decisions, orders or measures of the Director General (Competition) and the Director General (Consumer Affairs) as provided in the Competition Act, the Consumer Affairs Act and any regulations made thereunder; and
(c) The Industrial Tribunal which is set up by the Employment and Industrial Relations Act (Chapter 452 of the Laws of Malta) and is vested with the competence to determine certain cases relating to a set of employment relations issues and all cases of alleged unfair dismissals from employment.
The Arbiter for Financial Services Act, Chapter 555 of the Laws of Malta established the Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services and the said Arbiter has the power to mediate, investigate, and adjudicate complaints filed by a customer against a financial services provider.
The structure and organisation of local courts dealing with commercial claims is characterised by the fact that Switzerland is a federal state comprised of 26 cantons. Its substantive civil law and its law on civil procedure are regulated at federal law level, whereas the judiciary in Switzerland’s 26 cantons is organised by each canton individually (see also question 2).
The CCP prescribes the principle of double instance for the judiciary of the cantons. As a con-sequence, each canton must establish a court of first instance as well as a court of appeals with full power of review. Decisions of the cantonal appeal court may finally be appealed to the Swiss Federal Tribunal (the highest court of Switzerland). In the proceedings before the Swiss Federal Tribunal, which are governed by the Federal Act on the Swiss Federal Tribunal of 17 June 2015, the grounds for appeal are ordinarily limited to violations of federal and constitutional law. Under very limited circumstances, an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal may also be lodged to chal-lenge a manifestly wrong determination of the facts by the lower instance court.
With regard to commercial matters, the CCP grants the cantons the authority to deviate from the aforementioned principle of double instance by establishing a specialised court as the sole can-tonal instance to hear commercial disputes, whose decision may only be appealed to the Swiss Federal Tribunal. To date, four cantons (Zurich, Aargau, Berne and St Gallen) have made use of this right and have established such specialised commercial court (see also questions 1 and 16).
In certain specialised areas of law such as intellectual property, competition and antitrust law, claims against the Swiss government and disputes relating to collective investment schemes, the CCP requires the cantons to designate a court of exclusive first instance jurisdiction. Further-more, for disputes relating to patents the Federal Patent Court is competent to hear the case and the proceedings are governed by the Federal Act on the Federal Patent Court.
The structure of the Greek courts follows the rule of “two-instance jurisdiction”. That means that each commercial dispute shall be firstly introduced to the competent court of first instance (Court of Peace, Single-Member Court of First Instance, Multi-Member Court of First Instance). The party defeated on first instance (in whole or in part) is entitled to file an appeal against the judgment of the court of first instance, challenging both the legal and the factual grounds of the decision before the Court of Appeal. The decision of the Court of Appeal is final and enforceable. It can only be challenged before the Supreme Court; the Supreme Court does not however constitute a third level of jurisdiction, since it may examine only legal defects of the decision of the Court of Appeal.
All commercial claims shall formally be claimed in the local conciliation board. However, disputes regarding claims over NOK 125 000 (≈11 000 GBP) where both parties have been assisted by lawyers, can instead be claimed in the district court, which is the typical procedure. In other words, district courts are de facto the main rule for commercial claims.
There are 60 district courts, and they handle all case types, except certain cases for which there is a mandatory legal venue. Practical exampels are IPR cases such as trademark cases, design cases and patent cases, all of which are handled solely by Oslo District Court. Decisions by the district court can be appealed to one of the six regional courts of appeal. The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal. However, before an appeal is allowed before the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court’s Appeals Committee must allow the appeal to enter the Supreme Court, which requires typically will only be given if the case raises questions of principle, that are relevant beyond the specific case.
Judicial courts sit on civil, commercial and criminal matters and are organised on the basis of a three-tier structure:
- The ‘Justice de paix’ (hereafter the lower courts) and the ‘Tribunal d’arrondissement’ (hereinafter the district court): lower courts have jurisdiction in civil and commercial matters that do not exceed EUR 10.000. Appeals against the decisions of the lower courts are filed with the district courts. The district courts have jurisdiction to rule on disputes above EUR 10.000 in civil and commercial matters;
- The Court of appeal hears recourses against first-degree judgements rendered by the district courts;
- The Supreme Court (‘Cour de Cassation’) has jurisdiction to review decisions of the Court of appeal and certain other decisions that are not subject to any further appeal. Review by the Supreme Court is restricted to questions of law.
As noted above, commercial claims can be brought in both federal and state courts.
Federal courts have a three-tiered system comprised of trial courts, known as “district courts”, intermediate Courts of Appeal and a final court of appeal, known as the Supreme Court.
Local state courts also generally have a three-tiered system comprised of a trial court, an intermediate “appellate” court and a final court of appeal, often known as the state’s Supreme Court.
The civil court system in Iran generally has four levels: DSCs, courts of first instance, appeal courts, and the Supreme Court. A DSC is composed of a judge and two assistants who are not judge; a court of appeal is composed of a three judges and a Supreme Court is composed of five judge. Judges of a court of appeal and a Supreme Court can hold hearing sessions by majority.
Rulings of DSCs that hear small claims (falling below IRR 200 million) can be appealed before first instance courts, whose judgments will then be final. Other judgments handed down by courts of first instance are not final and may be appealed before the courts of appeal. A direct appeal from the ruling of courts of first instance to the Supreme Court is possible where the claim value exceeds IRR 20 million and the judgment of the court of first instance has not been appealed to the court of appeal within the statutory deadline.
In first instance, civil disputes are brought before one of eleven district courts (rechtbanken). The district courts have a sub-district law sector which has exclusive jurisdiction over small claims (< € 25,000) and matters regarding employment contracts, tenancy, agency agreements, sale agreements with consumers and lease-purchase agreements (section 93 DCCP). Appeals against judgments from a district court (including subdistrict sector) are made to one of the four courts of appeal (gerechtshoven).
The Enterprise Chamber of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal is the court of first instance for disputes involving mismanagement and related corporate issues.
The Supreme Court (Hoge Raad) is the final court of appeal. The Supreme Court is a cassation court, which only deals with matters of law.
International commercial disputes may be brought before the Netherlands Commercial Court. The NCC is a specialised court (chambers in the Amsterdam District Court and the Amsterdam Court of Appeal) designed to meet the need for efficient dispute resolution of international commercial matters. The entire proceedings are conducted in English (including the judgment).
Courts in Ecuador are organized into three different levels. The first consists of single-person judges with cantonal jurisdiction. The second is that of the Specialized Civil and Mercantile Divisions of the Provincial Courts, each consisting of three judges, with provincial jurisdiction and competent to hear appeals. Finally, as the court of cassation, the Specialized Civil Division of the National Court of Justice, also a panel of three, headquartered in Quito, with jurisdiction over the entire country.
As an exception, and only in cases where the cassation judgment violated a constitutional guarantee, a special action for protection of constitutional rights can be brought; this is resolved by the Constitutional Court. Despite its exceptional nature, it is a frequently used appeal.
The UAE consists of 7 emirates with each emirate having its own local courts. The courts are structured into 3 levels, the Court of First Instance, the Court of Appeal and the Court of Cassation.
All appeals with the Court of Cassation are filed in the capital emirate of Abu Dhabi except for Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah which have their own Courts of Cassation.
The official language for all courts is Arabic and the courts obtain statements of parties that do not speak Arabic through interpreters on oath.
Armenia is considered to have established a 3-level judicial system: including First Instance Courts, Court of Appeal and Court of Cassation. The commercial claims are respectively dealt by the First Instance Court of General Jurisdiction, Civil Court of Appeal and Civil and Administrative Chamber of the Court of Cassation, even though the latter is competent to hear only the claims regarding the substantial questions of law, not those of fact.